Talk of peace with north korea has the south wondering will this time be different national and world static electricity how it works


We were here in 1992, when North Korea signed a denuclearization agreement with South Korea. Again in 1994, when North Korea signed a denuclearization agreement with the United States. And in 2005, when North Korea signed a denuclearization agreement with its four neighbors and the United States. And then there was 2012, when North Korea signed another agreement with the United States.

For one, Kim Jong Un is a very different leader from his father. He’s an extrovert who’s not afraid to make bold gestures, whether it be firing an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4 or inviting a surprised South Korean president to step into North Korea with him, as Kim did to Moon Friday.

Kim called South Korea by its official name and North Korea by its South Korean name — linguistic gestures that spoke volumes about his desire to generate goodwill. He even acknowledged that North Korea’s roads and railways were far inferior to the South’s, that some North Koreans escaped and that South Koreans had died in recent years because of North Korean attacks. These were significant admissions by North Korean standards.

After the summit, people in the South lined up to eat cold buckwheat noodles — a North Korean specialty, and Kim’s contribution to the summit dinner on Friday night — and watched the scenes of Moon and Kim play on televisions and smartphones.

“I haven’t completed my military service yet, so the declaration to end the war stood out to me,” said Lee Lu-da, 24, a college student in Seoul. All South Korean men must complete at least 21 months of mandatory service before they turn 30, a reflection of the fact that South Korea remains at war with the North.

“My dad told me I will live in unified Korea when I grow up,” said Sun Seung-bum, 25, who’s studying for the civil service exam. “Of course, that hasn’t happened, and I didn’t have high hopes for this summit either,” he said. “But when I saw the handshake between Moon and Kim, I found it quite moving. And the words like peace and end of war resonated even with a skeptic like me.”

“The inter-Korean summit was a show of fake peace,” Hong Joon-pyo, head of the Liberty Korea Party, wrote on Facebook, criticizing in particular the vagueness of the clause on denuclearization. “Moon just took dictation from Kim Jong Un to get this declaration.”

Two young U.S. Army colonels — one of them Dean Rusk, who would later go on to become the secretary of state — found a National Geographic map of Asia and simply drew a line across the Korean Peninsula at the 38th parallel, despite the fact that Korea had been one country for more than a thousand years.

South Korea, after decades under strongmen who were less repressive but nevertheless still iron-fisted, has emerged as a democracy so vibrant that citizens peacefully turfed a president from office last year. It has embraced capitalism and the Internet and Christianity — all technically banned in the North — with fervor.

Yet even after more than 70 years of arbitrary separation, Koreans still have so much in common. This reporter has been struck in her travels to North Korea by how culturally similar Koreans remain: They ask the same prying personal questions; they laugh at the same jokes; they want their children to lead better lives than they have.

Kim appealed to this sense of being two parts of one whole at the end of his summit with Moon Friday, highlighting their shared language, history and culture. This was a ploy by Kim to forge a nationalistic bond with Moon and create a divide between South Korea and the United States. But it was also true.

Moving toward a peace regime may allow more reunions between Korean family members separated by the divide, potentially giving brothers and sisters who haven’t seen each other in more than 65 years the opportunity to hold one another’s hands one last time.