Beginning of the End?

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In a stunning breakthrough over this past Saturday, the usually fiery-tempered Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, has issued an invitation to South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-In, inviting him to attend a summit meeting in North Korea. This could be a historic moment, as the last time the two met was back in 2007, almost a decade ago. This comes amidst the recent act of unity at the opening ceremony of the Olympics in which both countries had athletes enter the arena together under the same unified flag.   

This invitation was presented to President Moon on Kim’s behalf by his sister, Kim Yo Jong, at a lunch meeting in the Presidential “Blue House” in Seoul last Saturday. Blue House spokesman, Kim Eui-kyeom, stated that Kim would like to meet with President Moon “at the earliest date possible”, and wanted him to pay a visit to North Korea. While President Moon did not immediately accept, stating that he wanted to “accomplish this by creating the right conditions”, he did suggest that the North began talks with the USA, a staunch supporter of South Korea, as soon as possible. Mr. Moon is clearly optimistic about this whole situation and made a reference to the recently united Women’s Ice Hockey Team who played together at the Olympics, stating that “the female ice hockey players from the two Koreas are now holding a small snowball in their hands, now, if we put our hearts and minds together, it will continue to grow larger and larger and turn into a snowman of peace.”

(Kim Ju-sung/Yonhap via AP)

While South Korean leaders are cautiously optimistic about this breakthrough in talks, their closely-held relationship with the US may prove to be a stumbling block in this process. Vice President Mike Pence, who was in South Korea for the Olympics, recently tweeted that “The U.S will not allow the propaganda charade by the North Korean regime to go unchallenged on the world stage. The world must NOT turn a blind eye to the oppression & threats of the Kim regime.” Pence also suggested that for any potential talks between the US and North Korea to take place, that denuclearization had to be on the table, something the Trump administration was very insistent upon despite North Korea’s stated reluctance to do so.

While these are very interesting developments, it remains to see what President Moon’s next step will be. After all, he is still facing a few key challenges regarding the proposed US and North Korea meetings. Firstly, the North may bring up requirements for them to meet in the first place, as they have done previously before, many of which the US government may be strongly against, such as to delay or stop the South Korean and USA “War Games” that happen in March. Also, many analysts believe that it would be very unlikely for discussions to even take place if the North openly flaunt their new technologies and continue to conduct Nuclear tests. While the initial signs are promising, this situation is definitely one to keep an eye on, especially in the near future.

 

About the author

Ryan Yang is V form student from Singapore. He hopes to pursue a career in business, but is currently more interested in getting more involved the Ecommerce sector, specifically, in marketplace creation. He has been working on his own social enterprise venture, Empowering People In Cambodia (EPIC). He hopes that his work in the future will allow him to give back and improve the lives of the Southeast-asian communities. Ryan is also an ardent fan of Arsenal Football Club, and enjoys spending time with his family and dog, Dolce.

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