In an unprecedented event on April 27 President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) held talks and both crossed the border into the other’s country. They held an Inter-Korean Summit Meeting at the Peace House at Panmunjom on 27 April, 2018 and signed a historic agreement, the Panmunjom Declaration, seeking a formal end to the Korean War and the “complete denuclearisation” of the peninsula at a summit in the demilitarised zone. 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 pair shook hands and even exchanged jokes in a highly-choreographed few hours before signing the joint declaration. They also decided to remain in close contact via a hotline in future.
The two leaders, sharing the firm commitment to bring a swift a swift end to the Cold War relic of longstanding 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 15 June, 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.
- 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 15 August this year.
- South and North Korea agreed to actively implement the projects previously agreed in the 4 October, 2007 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 modernization of the railways and roads on the eastern transportation corridor as well as between Seoul and Sinuiju for their utilisation.
Observers described the event as a momentous period of historical transformation on the Korean Peninsula, reflecting the enduring aspiration of the Korean people for peace, prosperity and unification. Analysts feel that this development would not only reduce tensions in the Korean peninsula, but also the diplomatic pressures and sanctions over North Korea. Although Japan would also benefit from the truce, still Japan feels that the agreement between the two Koreas would moderate the effects of economic sanctions against North Korea to curb its nuclear aspirations and development of weapons of mass destruction. The increased efforts for peace between the two Koreas may give a reason of concern to the United States because its pretext of keeping a military vigil in Easter Asia and Korean peninsula and deploying THAAD in South Korea is weakened. South Korea is also not happy about protectionist measures of Trump’s government.