Seoul, South Korea – While the Korean war never officially ended after more than six decades, multiple reports indicate that the conflict may soon see an official conclusion. An article from USA Today reports that “South Korea would consider negotiating an end to the decades-old Korean War if North Korea commits to denuclearization,” according to a Seoul official.
As noted by Bloomberg, an official peace treaty has never been signed in place of a 1953 armistice to effectively halt the Korean War. “The peninsula remains bisected in a perpetual stalemate, with the U.S.-backed South Korean military lined up against more than a million North Korean troops,” the publication illustrated. “While tensions have occasionally flared, the two sides have so far staved off another devastating conflict.”
Munhwa Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, cited an anonymous South Korean diplomatic official in its report that the two Koreas are working on a statement to announce an official end to the Korean war later this month when South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un meet for the first time.
As CNBC reports:
Kim and Moon could also discuss returning the heavily-fortified demilitarized zone separating them to its original state, the newspaper said.
Pyongyang and Seoul have technically been at war since the 1950-1953 Korean conflict ended with a truce—and not a peace treaty. Geopolitical tensions have occasionally flared up since the armistice, although to date both countries have managed to avoid another devastating conflict.
A successful summit between the Koreas later this month could help pave the way for a meeting between Kim and President Donald Trump. The U.S. president and North Korean leader are poised to hold talks in late May or June, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
While political pundits argue over whether it was President Trump’s “fire and fury” rhetoric, or “masterful” diplomacy on the part of South Korea, North Korea has signaled an increased willingness to consider denuclearization.
The Washington Post reported that current CIA Director and Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo “made a top-secret visit to North Korea as an envoy for President Trump to meet with Kim Jong Un, and plans for a possible summit between the two leaders are underway, Trump confirmed Wednesday.”
The report from The Washington Post explained:
The extraordinary meeting between one of Trump’s most trusted emissaries and the authoritarian head of a rogue state was part of an effort to lay the groundwork for direct talks between Trump and Kim about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
The clandestine mission came late last month, soon after Pompeo was nominated to be secretary of state. The Pompeo mission was first reported Tuesday by The Washington Post, citing two people with direct knowledge of the trip.
On Wednesday, Trump acknowledged the outreach and said “a good relationship was formed” that could lead to a landmark meeting between the president and Kim.
“Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week,” Trump tweeted. “Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed. Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!”
Korea experts remain cautiously optimistic about the prospect of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, but if the recent reports of an official end to the six-decade war are correct, it would prove to be a critical step toward establishing sustained peace in the region.