Prospects for peace on the Korean peninsula

Friday, 2021-08-20 09:13:55
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ROK Minister of Unification Lee In-young speaks at an event held at the border village of Panmunjom on November 4, 2020. (Photo: AFP/VNA)
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NDO – The Republic of Korea (ROK) has urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to return to the negotiating table soon, but is still concerned that external influences could slow down the peace process with Pyongyang. The DPRK side has yet to respond. In the context that the US and the ROK have just conducted a joint military exercise, the prospect of peace on the Korean peninsula seems to be fraught with difficulties.

In his recent speech, ROK Minister of Unification Lee In-young emphasised the importance of the ROK, the DPRK and the US resuming dialogue in 2021, in order to bring about “sustainable peace”. According to him, the prospects for peace on the Korean peninsula will face many obstacles if the talks are delayed. There are many external factors that could affect the peace process in the coming time, such as Seoul being busy with plans for the presidential election or the US midterm elections in 2022.

But according to Minister Lee In-young, upcoming international events such as the G20 Summit in Rome, Italy, in late October this year, and the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, China, can provide new opportunities to build trust and resume cooperation between the two Korean countries.

He said that Seoul wishes to negotiate flexibly with Pyongyang on the topics of denuclearisation, easing sanctions on the DPRK, normalising relations between the DPRK and the US, and improving inter-Korean relations.

In his congratulatory National Liberation Day speech, ROK President Moon Jae-in hoped for “a Korean Peninsula model” in which the two Koreas coexist and contribute to the prosperity of Northeast Asia. The ROK leader said that peace on the Korean peninsula is important for the prosperity of the world as well as of both the ROK and DPRK. It is hoped that this model will become a reality with the cooperation of Pyongyang.

In late July, 13 months after Pyongyang cut off communication in protest against anti-DPRK propaganda activities, the ROK and the DPRK officially reopened direct communication lines across the border. The move took place on the 68th anniversary of the signing of the 1950-1953 Armistice Agreement on the Korean peninsula and stemmed from the letters exchanged between President Moon Jae-in and leader Kim Jong-un since April 2021.

Within the letters, the leaders of DPRK and ROK discussed the restoration of inter-Korean relations and mutual trust at the earliest possible time. The international community is hoping for a positive ending to the process of normalising relations as well as the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula.