South Korea Aims To Make ‘Last-Ditch’ Effort For North Korea Breakthrough

On January 11th, South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, announced that he remains devoted to cooperating with North Korea. It has been explained that enhanced communication with the North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un is one of the signature goals for his last year of presidency. He believes that cooperation on issues such as anti-epidemic work could improve crucial dialogues that previously have been put on hold. Additionally, he declared that a close connection with the Biden administration is also a priority and that the possibility of developed unity between the Koreas would push for progressive conversation with the United States. However, Kim Jong-un is not on board with Moon’s peace plans, which signals relations being kept at the status quo and an uncertain future. 

During his annual New Year’s speech, President Moon stated that efforts will be made to encourage communication between the U.S and North Korea, as President Joe Biden is now in office. He points out that “Dialogue and co-prosperity are key drivers of the peace process on the Korean Peninsula,” Reuters reported. By making last-ditch efforts for the cooperation between the North and South, Moon desires to strengthen the alliance with the U.S. However, U.S News reported that talks aimed at convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and improve relations with the United States and South Korea have been put on hold, with the Pyongyang accusing Seoul and Washington of preserving conflicting policies. According to Reuters, Kim Jong-Un responded that inter-Korean relations could possibly be re-established if the South changes its attitudes and stops actions such as buying new weapons and conducting military drills with the United States.

Miscommunication and rivalry between the two headstrong leaders has been the main reason for the continuously rocky relationship between North and South Korea. Their forms of government leadership represent opposing sides, but Moon’s desire to prioritize peaceful relations between them is a significant sign of progress. As mentioned, an peaceful inter-Korean relationship is essential to avoid future conflict and requires the two determined leaders to learn to compromise. More critically, neither the United States nor North Korea has adopted a No First Use nuclear warfare policy, which is another arrangement that must be made before peace among the three countries can be reached. In October, Kim Jong-Un reported that he hoped the two Koreas could reconcile in the aftermath of the pandemic. Hopefully, these are not empty words used to postpone the discussion, since the increasingly unstable situation calls for a comprehensive and effective peace process.

The difficulty with cooperation between the two Koreas is largely based on the support of opposing sides of significant issues. South Korea and the U.S. are allies under the 1953 Mutual Defense Treaty, where the U.S. military has maintained a continuous presence on the peninsula to protect South Koreans amid any armed conflict. U.S. relations with North Korea, however, have historically been the complete opposite. The political and diplomatic situation has been hostile ever since the Korean War. Recently, the relations have been mostly characterized by unified military exercises in the South China Sea and continued American presence in South Korea. Moreover, North Korea has been holding an ongoing party congress, where leader Kim Jong-Un discussed developing more advanced nuclear weapons and revitalizing the country’s economy. Consequently, U.S economic sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear program and North Korea’s demand that the United States eliminate its nuclear arsenal that can reach the Korean peninsula has been a significant part of the complex conflict.

In conclusion, during Moon’s last year as president, he urgently calls for close cooperation within the Korean-peninsula. Instead of pursuing this, North Korean leadership is accusing the South Korean President and the U.S of maintaining hostile policies. Since the conflict has threatened to involve nuclear weapons, the increased connection is beneficial for everyone. Kim Jong-un is accusing the Moon and the U.S of maintaining hostile policies, while the South Korean President urgently calls for close cooperation. Throughout history, the relationship between North Korea and the U.S has been rocky and has shaped relationships among alliances and countries around them. An escalated conflict could rapidly develop into an alarming situation, threatening multiple peaceful relationships across the globe. Consequently, prioritizing peaceful relations is essential to generate a more interconnected and united future for the Korean peninsula.

Olivia Berntsson