Could North Korea's silence to recent diplomatic offers made by the South Korean Government be interpreted as a response, stall tactic, or does it imply something more?
This week on July 27th, the United States will celebrate the sixty-fourth-anniversary signing of the Armistice Agreement marking the end of the Korean War from 1950-1953. Years which were marked with the loss of more than five million lives and ended without an iron clad outcome but an agreement. Giving South Korea an extra 1,500 square miles of territory, and created what is now infamously known as the 2-mile-wide demilitarized zone. But did the world learn anything from this war?
One would think the Armistice Agreement would have settled once and for all each country's borders. Still decades later nothing can be considered settled when it comes to dealing with the DPRK. A lesson that recently elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in continues to learn as he attempts to try and halt the growing hostilities with North Korea. Even though South Korean Officials appear to be doing all that is possible to reach out and work with the DPRK. It seems the real question that needs asking: "Can peace between these two polar opposite countries ever exists?"
The latest example of how far apart the two countries interests are was on international display last week. When the ROK once again took the initiative, seeking to ease to heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, offered to hold military talks with North Korea in Panmunjom on Friday. If these discussions had taken place, it would be the first time that dialogue of any kind had officially occurred between the two countries since 2015. North Korea, not only ignored this offer, but continues to evade a second request from the South Korean Government. One involving the Red Cross working along with South Korea proposed a separate meeting slated for the first of August. This summit would focus on the potential for the countries to resume day-long family reunions for the families separated by the end of the Korean War.
Does Kim Jong-un in a sick and narcissistic way enjoy watching the ROK try to bring about some form of stability to the region, while he sits back and does nothing? Knowing that by remaining silent his country's mysterious facade remains intact and keeps the entire international community guessing what his next move will be? If this is the case, then the world learned nothing from the Korean War.
North Korea, has never hidden what they want or to what lengths they are willing to go to obtain it. Their only ambition, since the end of WWII when the country was split in half, in what appeared to be an afterthought, has been to reunify the entire Korean Peninsula under North Korean control. A process that began taking shape with the establishment of the Kim Dynasty, starting in 1948 with Kim Il-Sung.
In recent decades, North Korea’s mentality on who should govern the peninsula coupled with their continued flagrant defiance of international laws, shouldn’t shock anyone and yet it appears it does. Just look at what happened in May when South Korea tried to extend an olive branch to open the channels of communications with the DPRK. President Moon Jae-in, barely in office, used diplomatic channels voicing his desire for talks with the North Korean Government. Expressing his hopes that thru diplomacy the two countries might be able to find a way to ease rising tensions and restore, some semblance of stability to the region.
President Moon got his answer within days, when the North Korean Government answered his call for diplomacy by launching a Hwasong-12 Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM). This was a new missile North Korea had proudly displayed only weeks before during their Day of the Sun Parade. If there was any doubt left at this point as to how North Korean Officials truly felt, they were soon quashed. When North Korea once again defying international laws, followed up with the launching of their first Inter Continental Ballistic Missile, (ICBM), on July 4th.
As this week’s upcoming anniversary approaches, North Korea will mark the day as a national holiday celebrating their “victory” in the Korean War. There will be celebrations which usually include the laying of flowers at memorials, dancing, festivities and oh yes last but not least more military parades. Numerous North Korean experts and analysts will be closely watching Pyongyang over the next days to see what, if any, new surprises North Korea has in store for this holiday.