By Ann Wright, March 21, 2019
While U.S.-North Korean contact is stalled, relations between North Korea and South Korea continue to increase. Encouraging worldwide support for a peace agreement for the Korean peninsula, a consortium of four international women’s groups launched Korea Peace Now, a worldwide campaign for peace on the Korean peninsula, during the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women, the week of March 10, 2019.
With launch events in Washington, DC and New York City, representatives of Women Cross DMZ, Nobel Women’s Initiative, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the Korean Women’s Movement for Peace hosted three women Parliamentarians from the South Korean National Assembly. The South Korean women legislators spoke with many U.S. Congresswomen and men about supporting South Korean government initiatives for peace on the Korean peninsula and, although not said directly, encouraging the Trump administration to not hinder South Korean efforts for peace.
South Korean National Assembly leader Kwon Mi-Hyuk, one of three women Parliamentarians who spoke with various members of the U.S. Congress, with academics and think tankers at the Council on Foreign Relations and with the U.S. public at various events, said that she has been perplexed that U.S. Congresspersons and U.S. citizens have little knowledge of the important changes that have taken place between North and South Korea in the past year since the first summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-In and North Korean leader Kim Jung Un on April 27, 2018 in the Joint Security Area at the DMZ.
She added that 80 million Koreans on the Korean peninsula, in both North Korea and South Korea, are depending on the cooperation of the United States, North Korea and South Korea to finally bring an end to the 70 year old hostilities.
During the same week, the U.S. based Korea Peace Network held its annual Korea Advocacy Days March 13-14 in Washington, D.C. Speakers at the conference from all political alignments consistently said that peace on the Korean Peninsula is the only rational outcome of meetings between North Korea and South Korea, North Korea and the United States and the continuous meetings between the US and South Korea.
In 2018, North and South Korean government officials met 38 times in addition to the three summits between President Moon and Chairman Kim Jung Un. Dismantlement of some of the sentry towers in the DMZ and demining of part of the DMZ occurred in 2018. Liaison offices between North and South Korea have been established. Train tracks linking South Korea and North Korea have been closely inspected which will ultimately link South Korea with Europe by opening the train links through North Korea and China to Central Asia and Europe.
Parliamentarian Kwon said that the South Korean and South Korean governments hope to be able to reopen the Kaesong Industrial complex in North Korea which will restart the remarkable economic project halted in 2014 by the conservative South Korean Park Geun-hye administration. The park is located six miles north of the DMZ, an hour’s drive from the South Korean capital Seoul and has direct road and rail access to South Korea. In 2013, 123 South Korean companies in the Kaesong Industrial complex employed approximately 53,000 North Korean workers and 800 South Korean staff.
According to Kim Young Soon of the Korea Women’s Associations United said that there were three meetings between civil society groups in South Korea and North Korea in 2018. Civil society in South Korea strongly supports reconciliation with North Korea. In a recent poll, 95 percent of young people of South Korea are in favor of dialogue with North Korea.
Nobel Peace Laureate Jodie Williams spoke of going to the DMZ many times in the 1990s as a part of the Ban Land Mines campaign work. She reminded us that the United States is one of the few countries that refused to sign the Landmine Treaty claiming that landmines were needed to protect U.S. and South Korean military in the DMZ. She said that she had returned to the DMZ in December 2018 and spoke with South Korean soldiers who were dismantling the sentry posts in the DMZ and were taking out landmines as a part of the cooperative agreements between North and South Korea. Williams said that one soldier told her, “I went to the DMZ with hate in my heart, but the more we interacted with North Korea soldiers, the hate went away.” I thought of the North Korea soldiers as my enemy, but now that I have met them and talked with them, they are not my enemy, they are my friends. We as Korean brothers just want peace, not war. Echoing the theme of women, peace and security, Williams added, “When only men lead peace processes, the main issues that are addressed are guns and nukes, neglecting root causes of conflict. Guns and nukes are important to address, but this is why we need women at the center of peace processes– to discuss the impact of wars on women and children.”
Even conservatives like CATO Institute senior fellow Doug Bandow and Center for National Interest Henry Kazianis who spoke at the Korea Advocacy Days conference now believe the idea of military operations on the Korean Peninsula has no place in today’s thinking about national security.
Kazianis said that the Hanoi summit was not a failure, but one of the to-be-expected slowdowns in negotiations. He said that statements of “fire and fury” have not erupted from the White House since the Hanoi summit, nor has there been a resumption of North Korea nuclear or missile testing . Kazianias explained that North Korean ICBM missile tests were the trigger point for the Trump administration and with North Korea not restarting the tests, the White House is not on hair-trigger alert as it was in 2017. Kazianis reminded us that North Korea is not an economic threat to the U.S. The economy for the population of 30 million North Koreans is the size of the economy of Vermont.
U.S. Congressman Ro Khanna spoke to the Korean Advocacy group about House Resolution 152 which asks President Trump to issue a declaration to end the state of war with North Korea and a binding agreement for the formal and final end to the longest state of war in U.S. history. The member organizations of the Korea Peace Network will be asking their members to press their members of Congress to sign onto the resolution. The resolution currently 21 co-sponsors.
At a press conference at the United Nations Correspondents Association on March 14, South Korean civil society representative Mimi Han of the Young Women’s Christian Association and the Korean Women’s Movement for Peace said:
“We Koreans, in both the North and the South, have deep scars from the World War II war and the division of our country after World War II. Korea had nothing to do with the war—we were occupied by Japan for decades before the war and yet our country was divided, not Japan. My mother was born in Pyongyang. 70 years later, trauma is still living in us. We want peace on the Korean peninsula-finally.”
Fifteen of the seventeen countries that comprised the “UN Command” during the Korean War have already normalized relations North Korea and have embassies in North Korea. Only the United States and France have refused to normalize relations with North Korea. The “UN Command” is a term that was never authorized by the United Nations, but instead, the name given by the United States to deflect its dominance over the collection of national militaries that the U.S. recruited to participate with the U.S. in the war on the Korean peninsula.
The communiques signed by President Moon and Chairman Kim following their meetings in April, May and September 2018 contain specific steps for confidence building and stand in sharp contrast to general concepts the U.S. President Trump has been willing to sign in its communique following the first meeting with North Korea leader Kim. The second meeting between President Trump and Chairman Kim abruptly ended without a communique.
In order to understand the depth of commitment of the North and South Korean governments toward normalization of their relationship, the text of the communique from each meeting between President Moon and Chairman Kim is provided below:
April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula:
April 27, 2018
Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula
1) 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.
2) 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.
3) 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.
4) 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.
5) 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.
6) 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.
2. South and North Korea will make joint efforts to alleviate the acute military tension and practically eliminate the danger of war on the Korean Peninsula.
1) South and North Korea agreed to completely cease all hostile acts against each other in every domain, including land, air and sea, that are the source of military tension and conflict. In this vein, the two sides agreed to transform the demilitarised zone into a peace zone in a genuine sense by ceasing as of 2 May this year all hostile acts and eliminating their means, including broadcasting through loudspeakers and distribution of leaflets, in the areas along the Military Demarcation Line.
2) South and North Korea agreed to devise a practical scheme to turn the areas around the Northern Limit Line in the West Sea into a maritime peace zone in order to prevent accidental military clashes and guarantee safe fishing activities.
3) South and North Korea agreed to take various military measures to ensure active mutual cooperation, exchanges, visits and contacts. The two sides agreed to hold frequent meetings between military authorities, including the defence ministers meeting, in order to immediately discuss and solve military issues that arise between them. In this regard, the two sides agreed to first convene military talks at the rank of general in May.
3. South and North Korea will actively cooperate to establish a permanent and solid peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. Bringing an end to the current unnatural state of armistice and establishing a robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula is a historical mission that must not be delayed any further.
1) South and North Korea reaffirmed the Non-Aggression Agreement that precludes the use of force in any form against each other, and agreed to strictly adhere to this Agreement.
2) South and North Korea agreed to carry out disarmament in a phased manner, as military tension is alleviated and substantial progress is made in military confidence-building.
3) During this year that marks the 65th anniversary of the Armistice, South and North Korea agreed to actively pursue trilateral meetings involving the two Koreas and the United States, or quadrilateral meetings involving the two Koreas, the United States and China with a view to declaring an end to the war and establishing a permanent and solid peace regime.
4) South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realising, through complete denuclearisation, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. South and North Korea shared the view that the measures being initiated by North Korea are very meaningful and crucial for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and agreed to carry out their respective roles and responsibilities in this regard. South and North Korea agreed to actively seek the support and cooperation of the international community for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
The two leaders agreed, through regular meetings and direct telephone conversations, to hold frequent and candid discussions on issues vital to the nation, to strengthen mutual trust and to jointly endeavour to strengthen the positive momentum towards continuous advancement of inter-Korean relations as well as peace, prosperity and unification of the Korean Peninsula.
In this context, President Moon Jae-in agreed to visit Pyongyang this fall.
27 April, 2018
Done in Panmunjom
President, Republic of Korea
Chairman, State Affairs Commission, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
The second Inter-Korean summit was held in the Unification Pavilion, the building on the north side of Panmunjom in the Joint Security Area, on May 26 after President Trump on May 24 suddenly said he was not going to meet with North Korea in Singapore. President Moon salvaged the situation by meeting with Chairman Kim two days after Trump’s announcement.
There was no formal communique from the May 26 meeting, but the North Korean state-run KCNA news agency said the two leaders agreed to “meet frequently in the future to make dialogue brisk and pool wisdom and efforts, expressing their stand to make joint efforts for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.
South Korea’s presidential Blue House said in a statement: “They exchanged views and discussed ways to implement the Panmunjom Declaration [on improving inter-Korean ties] and to ensure a successful US North Korea summit.”
Two weeks later, President Trump met with Chairman Kim in Singapore June 12, 2018. The text of the Singapore agreement is:
“President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a first, historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.
President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth, and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new U.S.–DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Convinced that the establishment of new U.S.–DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:
- The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.–DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
- The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
- Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
- The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
Having acknowledged that the U.S.–DPRK summit—the first in history—was an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening up of a new future, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously. The United States and the DPRK commit to hold follow-on negotiations, led by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the U.S.–DPRK summit.
President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new U.S.–DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.
DONALD J. TRUMP
President of the United States of America
KIM JONG UN
Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
June 12, 2018
The third Inter-Korean summit was held in Pyongyang, North Korea on September 18-20, 2018 resulted in a very detailed list of action items detailed in the Pyongyang Joint Declaration of September 2018.
Pyongyang Joint Declaration of September 2018
Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea and Kim Jong-un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea held the Inter-Korean Summit Meeting in Pyongyang on September 18-20, 2018.
The two leaders assessed the excellent progress made since the adoption of the historic Panmunjeom Declaration, such as the close dialogue and communication between the authorities of the two sides, civilian exchanges and cooperation in many areas, and epochal measures to defuse military tension.
The two leaders reaffirmed the principle of independence and self-determination of the Korean nation and agreed to consistently and continuously develop inter-Korean relations for national reconciliation and cooperation, and firm peace and co-prosperity, and to make efforts to realize through policy measures the aspiration and hope of all Koreans that the current developments in inter-Korean relations will lead to reunification.
The two leaders held frank and in-depth discussions on various issues and practical steps to advance inter-Korean relations to a new and higher dimension by thoroughly implementing the Panmunjeom Declaration, shared the view that the Pyongyang Summit will be an important historic milestone, and declared as follows.
1. The two sides agreed to expand the cessation of military hostility in regions of confrontation such as the DMZ into the substantial removal of the danger of war across the entire Korean Peninsula and a fundamental resolution of the hostile relations.
① The two sides agreed to adopt the “Agreement on the Implementation of the Historic Panmunjeom Declaration in the Military Domain” as an annex to the Pyongyang Declaration, and to thoroughly abide by and faithfully implement it, and to actively take practical measures to transform the Korean Peninsula into a land of permanent peace.
② The two sides agreed to engage in constant communication and close consultations to review the implementation of the Agreement and prevent accidental military clashes by promptly activating the Inter-Korean Joint Military Committee.
2. The two sides agreed to pursue substantial measures to further advance exchanges and cooperation based on the spirit of mutual benefit and shared prosperity, and to develop the nation’s economy in a balanced manner.
① The two sides agreed to hold a ground-breaking ceremony within this year for the east-coast and west-coast rail and road connections.
② The two sides agreed, as conditions ripe, to first normalize the Gaeseong industrial complex and the Mt. Geumgang Tourism Project, and to discuss the issue of forming a west coast joint special economic zone and an east coast joint special tourism zone.
③ The two sides agreed to actively promote south-north environment cooperation so as to protect and restore the natural ecology, and as a first step to endeavor to achieve substantial results in the currently on-going forestry cooperation.
④ The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in the areas of prevention of epidemics, public health and medical care, including emergency measures to prevent the entry and spread of contagious diseases.
3. The two sides agreed to strengthen humanitarian cooperation to fundamentally resolve the issue of separated families.
① The two sides agreed to open a permanent facility for family reunion meetings in the Mt. Geumgang area at an early date, and to promptly restore the facility toward this end.
② The two sides agreed to resolve the issue of video meetings and exchange of video messages among the separated families as a matter of priority through the inter-Korean Red Cross talks.
4. The two sides agreed to actively promote exchanges and cooperation in various fields so as to enhance the atmosphere of reconciliation and unity and to demonstrate the spirit of the Korean nation both internally and externally.
① The two sides agreed to further promote cultural and artistic exchanges, and to first conduct a performance of the Pyongyang Art Troupe in Seoul in October this year.
② The two sides agreed to actively participate together in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games and other international games, and to cooperate in bidding for the joint hosting of the 2032 Summer Olympic Games.
③ The two sides agreed to hold meaningful events to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the October 4 Declaration, to jointly commemorate the 100th anniversary of the March First Independence Movement Day, and to hold working-level consultations toward this end.
5. The two sides shared the view that the Korean Peninsula must be turned into a land of peace free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threats, and that substantial progress toward this end must be made in a prompt manner.
① First, the North will permanently dismantle the Dongchang-ri missile engine test site and launch platform under the observation of experts from relevant countries.
② The North expressed its willingness to continue to take additional measures, such as the permanent dismantlement of the nuclear facilities in Yeongbyeon, as the United States takes corresponding measures in accordance with the spirit of the June 12 US-DPRK Joint Statement.
③ The two sides agreed to cooperate closely in the process of pursuing complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
6. Chairman Kim Jong-un agreed to visit Seoul at an early date at the invitation of President Moon Jae-in.
September 19, 2018
President Trump and Chairman Kim met again February 11-12, 2019 in Hanoi, Vietnam, but the summit ended without a statement, the Trump administration stating that North Korea had demanded lifting of all sanctions and the North Korean government responding that they had asked only for the lifting of specific sanctions as a confidence building measure for North Korea having suspended nuclear weapons and ballistic missile testing.
Several speakers at the Korean Advocacy Days noted that the influence of recently appointed war hawk National Security Advisor John Bolton dramatically changed the dynamic in the U.S.-North Korean summit in Hanoi. They opined that as long as Bolton and his long-standing Contract for a New American Century group of regime change proponents remain in the White House, President Trump’s goal of reaching an agreement with North Korea will be stymied.
Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and served in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the U.S. government in March 2003 in opposition to President Bush’s war on Iraq. She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”