Are North & South Korea Headed For Peace, or Are We Celebrating Too Early?

2018 Inter-Korean Summit: What will happen when North Korea and South Korea meet? | IN 60 SECONDS
2018 Inter-Korean Summit: What will happen when North Korea and South Korea meet? | IN 60 SECONDS

AEI's Nicholas Eberstadt argues that, if history is any indicator, breakthroughs are unlikely at the latest meeting between North and South Korea. ARTICLE – ...


Leaders of both North and South Korea met in the demilitarized zone to discuss the possibility of ending the state of war that has existed between the two nations since 1953. When Kim Jong-Un stepped onto South Korean soil, he became the first North Korean leader to do so since the cease-fire. As the summit progresses and peace talks ensue, the world is watching with wonder, hoping that the two embittered nations can finally end their hostilities.

But is that actually going to happen? It's understandable to be hopeful for a peaceful resolution, and for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, but what is the actual likelihood of the state of war being ended, and of nuclear weapons being relinquished by the Kim regime?

Nicholas Eberstadt, an international demographer and noted expert on all things Korea, is skeptical of true peace because the northern regime has historically not been willing to uphold certain fundamental foundations of negotiations.

The first two North-South summits in 2000 and 2007 were flat-out failures, at least for the West. Despite sunshine promises and predictions at the time, they led neither to denuclearization nor to peace. Why exactly should we think a third summit with a third ruler of the Kim family regime will turn out differently?

True peace with the South would require Pyongyang to recognize the right of the South Korean state to exist. True denuclearization would force the Kim family regime to give up its quest for unconditional unification of the whole peninsula. The real existing North Korean state cannot accept either of these propositions.

Kim Jong-Un's language and demeanor during the summit suggests his wanting to reconcile differences, but until those basic conditions are accepted by the North, any true hope for peace will remain elusive, in Eberstadt's opinion.

Seoul's illusions therefore look to be on a collision course with reality, and maybe Washington's, too.

Can there be peace on the Korean peninsula? Will it come from this latest summit? Tell us your thoughts!