Summit of the two Koreas: Pacification, military continuity, or denuclearization?

This meeting aims to counteract North Korea's aggressive policy on the eve of the next meeting with the US president

Summit of the two Koreas: Pacification, military continuity, or denuclearization?

Leer en español: Cumbre de las dos Coreas: ¿Pacificación, continuidad militar o desnuclearización?

The attempts to reunify the two Koreas, confronted since the end of the war in 1953, have been few and unsuccessful. The border between both nations is one of the most militarized in the world and they maintain one of the longest-running confrontations since the 20th century.

It was until 2000, when the intention to "pacify" - or at least reduce hostilities - was defined by the union of the two territories through a train that crossed the border with stations on each side of the two Koreas. This decision was cataloged as "a new historical scenario". Seven years later, there was a new meeting to gain military confidence and the first time a South Korean president stepped on North Korean soil. These years are known as "sun policy".

This time, there will be a new meeting on April 27 at the House of La Paz del Sur in Panmunjon. There, the issues of denuclearization of North Korea (and on the eve of the meeting of Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump in May) and a greater rapprochement towards unity between the two Koreas will be discussed.

The issue of denuclearization can be taken from two sides: the first, is the eternal blackmail of the North Korean leader (like his father and grandfather) to try to create nuclear weapons in order to intimidate "international peace" in exchange for humanitarian aid as food, medicine, or other basic needs. The second option is to empower itself as a strong state that can really be a "threat" to its enemies (read the United States).

The first option has to do with maintaining the status quo of the nuclear powers of assimilating as threatening the possible North Korean nuclearization (as it happens with Iran, which represents in itself a threat to international peace) and destabilizing the controlled Asia-Pacific region in largely by the Sino-Japanese duopoly. Secondly, North Korea presents itself as a convincing state of belonging to an exclusive group of carriers of a certain type of armament, which gives it some respect and fear, which seems to be one of Kim Jong Un’s objectives.

By bringing these characteristics together, North Korea presents itself as a relevant actor not only in its region, but also as a possible actor capable of determining the possible relations between its neighbors, such as China (with Russia) and Japan (with the United States). Also, it would be determining for its neighbor from the South, weaker militarily and more interested in addressing the issue of denuclearization.

According to the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), North Korea has about 1,190,000 military personnel, in contrast with its neighbor of the South, which has 630,000. That is, North Korea represents the fourth largest army in the world with a military budget of up to 25% of its GDP.

However, before this scenario, it can be concluded that the Summit will try to counteract North Korea's aggressive policy on the eve of its next meeting with the US president. The issue of North Korean denuclearization, or at least its reduction, aims to resolve the existing rupture for more than 60 years that has committed the two Korean leaders (North-South) to present a formal approach to demilitarization and the proclivity to a not so distant reunification.

Latin American Post | Roberto Viesca
Translated from “Cumbre de las dos Coreas: ¿Pacificación, continuidad militar o desnuclearización?”

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