A move toward peace on the Korean Peninsula
DIPLOMATIC POUCH - Han Dong-Man (The Philippine Star) - October 4, 2018 - 12:00am

After the Korean War was ceased by the Armistice Agreement in 1953, the Korean Peninsula was divided into North and South. However, after 65 years of division, 2018 may just be the pivotal year that could mark the beginning of a new era for the Korean Peninsula. So far, three inter-Korean summits and the first North Korea and US Summit were held.

Recently President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea and Chairman Kim Jong Un held the third inter-Korean summit from Sept. 18 to 20, 2018 in Pyongyang, North Korea. The two leaders agreed to cooperate for complete denuclearization of the Peninsula. The joint declaration which was presented by the two leaders in Pyongyang stipulated the North’s decision to permanently dismantle a missile engine test site at Dongchang-ri in the presence of international experts to eliminate global distrust. The declaration also expresses North Korea’s willingness to permanently dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear facilities as the United States takes the corresponding measures.

At the summit, the two Korean leaders agreed to explore substantial measures to further advance exchanges and cooperation, and to develop the nation’s economy in a balanced manner. Chairman Kim Jong Un agreed to visit Seoul at an early date at the invitation of President Moon Jae-in.

President Moon said, “The era of a Korean Peninsula without war has begun.” And Chairman Kim stated, “The world is going to see how this divided nation is going to bring about a new future on its own.” Inarguably, the rest of the world is closely monitoring how this will develop, for the end results will have far-reaching implications on regional and international relations.

No doubt the third inter-Korean summit is a sign of tremendous progress in that both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and to halt all military actions that could spark conflict along the border. Moreover, the two leaders promised to put an end to hostile relations, therefore ending the looming danger of war on the Korean Peninsula. The United States welcomed the North’s decision and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “this will mark the beginning of negotiations to transform US-DPRK relations through the process of rapid denuclearization of North Korea.” This is certainly a big step to move forward into sustainable global peace.

As we wait for the final outcome of all these talks, I am comforted by the thought that the people of the world, including our Filipino friends who have stood by our side for nearly seven decades, are backing all efforts to see genuine peace in the Korean Peninsula.

As the ambassador to the Philippines and as one of the many Korean nationals in the country, I am very relieved and grateful that all Filipinos are enthusiastically supporting the peaceful developments on the Korean Peninsula. I sincerely hope that the coming summit meeting between the US and North Korea, and Kim’s next visit to Seoul will make another milestone that would take us one step closer to peace. In particular, I appreciate the recent resolution unanimously adopted by the Senate of the Philippines and initially introduced by Senator Richard Gordon for recognizing the efforts of the President of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-in, toward denuclearization and development not only in the Korean Peninsula but also in the Philippines.

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(Han Dong-man is the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea.)

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