The days of American bullying power are waning.
It can’t get more symbolic than that. The leaders of the two Koreas this week clasped hands atop the highest mountain on the peninsula, vowing to unite in peace. The ball is now in Washington’s court to help deliver that peace.
This year has seen several diplomatic milestones already in the rapprochement between North and South Korea. But the three-day summit this week has advanced the cause for peace on the peninsula even further.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in was greeted in the North’s capital by huge crowds of well-wishers. With North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, important commitments were signed towards scrapping nuclear weapons and normalizing ties between the two divided countries.
On the second day of his historic visit, President Moon addressed an estimated 150,000 people in the May Day stadium in Pyongyang during which he repeatedly referred to “my Korean brothers and sisters”. To rapturous applause, he called for peace and reunification of the “great Korean people”.
The next day, Moon and Kim hiked up Mount Paektu accompanied by their wives and delegates. The mountain is revered by North and South Koreans as the spiritual birthplace of the nation, going back 5,000 years. As Moon had noted in his stadium speech the previous night, Koreans have been living together in peace for millennia; it is only in the past 70 years they have been divided by Cold War and a brutal civil conflict (1950-53).
That division seems now to be coming to an end after this week’s fraternal summit.
It wasn’t all idle talk either. Both sides committed to demilitarize the border separating the countries and form a joint military committee to oversee deconfliction mechanisms. The two leaders set out plans to integrate the states through transport systems and economic cooperation.
On the painful issue of reuniting families torn apart by the war, there are plans to regularize contacts across the border.
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