It was the moment the world had been waiting for: Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in stepped out of the last buildings on either side of the 38th parallel before meeting directly on the border between the two Korean states which was once a no-man’s-land. After shaking hands on the 38th parallel, Moon invited Kim onto South Korea territory, making him the first DPRK head of state to do so since the armistice which ended the Korean War. Then, Kim at Moon’s request, happily escorted Moon onto DPRK territory where they both posed before photographers, before the two crossed back and entered Peace House on the south side of the border.
The entire atmosphere was paradoxically formal and informal. The historic significance of the entire affair gave it an immense weight as both leaders after decades of hostility were taking their mutually peaceful destiny into their own hands.
On the other hand, one could not help but notice something casual about the entire endeavour as the procession route that the two heads of state took seemed somewhat ad hock, which only added to the sincere expressions on both Kim and Moon’s faces as both leaders appeared to genuinely revel in a moment that will put many hearts and minds at east on both sides of the border. Both Kim and Moon looked genuinely happy to be part of something historic as joint representatives of the Korean people.
After posing for more pictures, Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in went into a private meeting which lasted for over an hour. Later the two leaders emerged where the signed a mutual declaration vowing to intensify the pursuit of peace and new found relations, while both sides also reaffirmed their desire to see the complete de-nuclearisation of Korea. Later the two planted a pine tree using soil and water taken from both sides of the border.
Kim and Moon also discussed the possibility of building rail links between the two states in order to expedite future cultural and eventually commercial ties between the two countries and important stated that it is their desire to work with international partners to formally put an end to the Korean War. The full statement jointly signed by the leaders of both Korean states can be read below:
“During this momentous period of historical transformation on the Korean Peninsula, reflecting the enduring aspiration of the Korean people for peace, prosperity and unification, President Moon Jae In of the Republic of Korea and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea held an Inter-Korean Summit Meeting at the ‘Peace House’ at Panmunjom on April 27, 2018.
The two leaders solemnly declared before the 80 million Korean people and the whole world that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and thus a new era of peace has begun.
The two leaders, sharing the firm commitment to bring a swift a swift end to the Cold War relic of long-standing division and confrontation, to boldly approach a new era of national reconciliation, peace and prosperity, and to improve and cultivate inter-Korean relations in a more active manner, declared at this historic site of Panmunjom as follows:
1. South and North Korea will reconnect the blood relations of the people and bring forward the future of co-prosperity and unification led by Koreans by facilitating comprehensive and groundbreaking advancement in inter-Korean relations.
Improving and cultivating inter-Korean relations is the prevalent desire of the whole nation and the urgent calling of the times that cannot be held back any further.1) South and North Korea affirmed the principle of determining the destiny of the Korean nation on their own accord and agreed to bring forth the watershed moment for the improvement of inter-Korean relations by fully implementing all existing agreements and declarations adopted between the two sides thus far.
2) South and North Korea agreed to hold dialogue and negotiations in various fields including at high level, and to take active measures for the implementation of the agreements reached at the summit.
3) South and North Korea agreed to establish a joint liaison office with resident representatives of both sides in the Gaeseong region in order to facilitate close consultation between the authorities as well as smooth exchanges and cooperation between the peoples.
4) South and North Korea agreed to encourage more active cooperation, exchanges, visits and contacts at all levels in order to rejuvenate the sense of national reconciliation and unity.
Between South and North, the two sides will encourage the atmosphere of amity and cooperation by actively staging various joint events on the dates that hold special meaning for both South and North Korea, such as June 15, in which participants from all levels, including central and local governments, parliaments, political parties, and civil organisations, will be involved.
On the international front, the two sides agreed to demonstrate their collective wisdom, talents, and solidarity by jointly participating in international sports events such as the 2018 Asian Games.
5) South and North Korea agreed to endeavour to swiftly resolve the humanitarian issues that resulted from the division of the nation, and to convene the Inter-Korean Red Cross Meeting to discuss and solve various issues, including the reunion of separated families.
In this vein, South and North Korea agreed to proceed with reunion programmes for the separated families on the occasion of the National Liberation Day of Aug 15 this year.
6) South and North Korea agreed to actively implement the projects previously agreed in the 2007 October 4 Declaration, in order to promote balanced economic growth and co-prosperity of the nation.
As a first step, the two sides agreed to adopt practical steps towards the connection and modernisation of the railways and roads on the eastern transportation corridor as well as between Seoul and Sinuiju for their utilisation.
2. South and North Korea will make joint efforts to alleviate the acute military tension and practically eliminate the danger of war on the Korean Peninsula.
1) South and North Korea agreed to completely cease all hostile acts against each other in every domain, including land, air and sea, that are the source of military tension and conflict.
In this vein, the two sides agreed to transform the demilitarised zone into a peace zone in a genuine sense by ceasing as of May 2 this year all hostile acts and eliminating their means, including broadcasting through loudspeakers and distribution of leaflets, in the areas along the Military Demarcation Line.
2) South and North Korea agreed to devise a practical scheme to turn the areas around the Northern Limit Line in the West Sea into a maritime peace zone in order to prevent accidental military clashes and guarantee safe fishing activities.
3) South and North Korea agreed to take various military measures to ensure active mutual cooperation, exchanges, visits and contacts. The two sides agreed to hold frequent meetings between military authorities, including the defence ministers meeting, in order to immediately discuss and solve military issues that arise between them.
In this regard, the two sides agreed to first convene military talks at the rank of general in May.
3. South and North Korea will actively cooperate to establish a permanent and solid peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. Bringing an end to the current unnatural state of armistice and establishing a robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula is a historical mission that must not be delayed any further.
1) South and North Korea reaffirmed the Non-Aggression Agreement that precludes the use of force in any form against each other, and agreed to strictly adhere to this agreement.
2) South and North Korea agreed to carry out disarmament in a phased manner, as military tension is alleviated and substantial progress is made in military confidence-building.
3) During this year that marks the 65th anniversary of the Armistice, South and North Korea agreed to actively pursue trilateral meetings involving the two Koreas and the United States, or quadrilateral meetings involving the two Koreas, the United States and China, with a view to declaring an end to the war and establishing a permanent and solid peace regime.
4) South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realising, through complete denuclearisation, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.
South and North Korea shared the view that the measures being initiated by North Korea are very meaningful and crucial for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and agreed to carry out their respective roles and responsibilities in this regard.
South and North Korea agreed to actively seek the support and cooperation of the international community for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
The two leaders agreed, through regular meetings and direct telephone conversations, to hold frequent and candid discussions on issues vital to the nation, to strengthen mutual trust and to jointly endeavour to strengthen the positive momentum towards continuous advancement of inter-Korean relations as well as peace, prosperity and unification of the Korean Peninsula.
In this context, President Moon Jae In agreed to visit Pyongyang this fall.
April 27, 2018
Done in Panmunjom
Moon Jae In
Republic of Korea
Kim Jong Un
State Affairs Commission
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”.
After decades of an artificial division, North and South Korea are on a surprisingly rapid road to full reconciliation. Of course, much remains to be done including setting up practicable economic ties, expanding cultural ties, normalising travel between the two states for ordinary citizens and working on joint geopolitical ventures. Also, both Kim and Moon must now convince a United States that has for decades exploited the Korean issue in order to sell weapons to both Seoul and Tokyo while also putting pressure on Moscow and Beijing to be on high alert on their Korean border, that it is the will of all of Asian to see peace and reconciliation flourish between Pyongyang and Seoul, even though full-Korean unification may still be a long way off.
In the mean time, the phenomenon of ‘one-country – two systems’ that has been so-successfully implemented in China since Hong Kong and Macau reunited with the rest of China, could be employed as a template for a Korean peninsula that becomes a single political unit but with two unique systems of government which reflect the recent historical and sociological experiences of a people who since the 1950s have been politically divided.