Let us take a look at North Korea. The country in terms of size is about 1% of the size of the United States, in terms of population it is about 2% of China’s population and still these three countries seem to be named as equals, recently more often than ever before.
North Korea does not have enough food for their own people, people do not have Facebook nor Google, and the Foreign Office has to ration the use of computers because of the constant blackouts. With such a bad hand, Mr. Kim played his way to the table of the world’s superpowers quite successfully.
But what is actually happening right now and what does it mean? Are we finally close to end a war that lasted for more than half a century and leave this chapter of history to the books?
How can the situation now be so bright, while the way Trump and Kim spoke half a year ago looked more like war-policy than peace-making?
These are just some of the unanswered questions regarding North Korea, but let us use them in order to explain the current situation.
With his aggressive tone towards North Korea, Donald Trump probably scared Kim Jong-un a couple of times, but even more the South Korean president Mr. Moon Jae-in.
Mr. Moon was therefore pushed more and more towards his Olympic diplomacy, which, quite successfully, set the groundwork for the most recent breakthroughs in the conflict on the Korean peninsula; namely, the first visit of a North Korean leader to South Korea. All this is also leading the way for a meeting between Mr. Kim, Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi Jinping, the Chinese president; something that has been a long-term aim of North Korea.
During Mr. Kim’s visit in the South, both leaders of the Korean peninsula signed a declaration which promises “no more war”, “a new era of peace” and “complete denuclearization”. This sounds very good, but we should probably remain skeptical. All the details of the agreement have been postponed to further negotiations and this leaves the declaration being nothing but a sign of good will.
And do not get your hopes up: the North and the South have signed peace documents before, in 2000 and in 2007. Both of them failed. Again, a couple of years later in 2012, North Korea agreed not to test missiles, only to break its own word within the next weeks.
One more reasons for us to be skeptical is, as mentioned above, that both leaders may have agreed upon the aim – “no more war” and “a new era of peace” – but not on the means. Usually, when North Korea offers to give up their nuclear arsenal, it comes with the condition that the United States of America give up their alliance with the South and therefore eliminate the threat to the North. The alliance between the US and South Korea has been a policy since the Korean War in the 1950s. For the same time period, North Korea has tried to build up their nuclear arsenal and, now, both of them are ready to make a U-turn in the policies their countries have pursued for over half a century?
However, this raises the question if either one of the two parties – the US and North Korea – expects the declaration to bring any fruits and really end the conflict on the peninsula, or if it is just a way to back away from their war-threats.
This, of course, would be bad for the North-South Korean conflict; indeed, it would most likely continue. Still, though, there are worse alternatives: an actual military conflict would be terrible for the world.
This way all leaders involved in the conflict can save their faces, Trump and Kim can act as historic peacemakers and to complete the sharade their followers can start lobbying for a Nobel Peace Prize for the two of them.
Anyway, the world keeps spinning and people can keep waiting for an actual change.