Kim Jong-un just made history on May 4, 2018, by becoming the first North Korean leader to cross the border since the Korean War ended in 1953.
When Japanese forces surrendered to the Allied forces on September 1945, Korea, which at the time was a Japanese colony, was divided into two separate countries by the Soviet Union and the U.S., one in Pyongyang led by Kim Il-sung and the other one in Seoul led by Syngman Rhee.
Both the North Korean and South Korean governments felt the need to unify and rule the entire peninsula.
On the other hand, the U.S. government was in the early days of the cold war, so it decided to commit to defending South Korea, symbolizing a stance against communism. The move pleased China who decided to side with North Korea.
The violence was brutal, killing at least two million people. In 1953, once the killing stopped, the US, China, and North Korea signed an Armistice agreement which brought about a complete cessation of hostilities of the Korean War. South Korea refused to sign the agreement, therefore, the war technically never ended.
Almost 65 years later, after long and painful negotiations, the heads of North and South Korea signed the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace in which they committed themselves to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and pledged to bring a formal end to the Korean War.
So far, the two sides have removed loudspeakers from the border area that for decades blasted propaganda into the demilitarized zone. And more recently North Korea changed the time on the clocks to sync with Seoul. The country had originally changed its time by half an hour to demonstrate its independence from South Korea.
President Donald Trump said Friday that a date and location has been set for his upcoming summit with Kim Jong Un, the first ever meeting between a sitting U.S. president and North Korean leader, in which both presidents will discuss the potential of a peace treaty.
The North Korean leader has expressed his desire that U.S. troops leave South Korea to officially end the war.
While the White House has officially stated that they are not reducing the number of troops in the country, the Trump administration is willing to do so in the future to reduce expenditures.
The move has an important significance and lots of questions to be asked about the future. The biggest perhaps is Korea to become once again a sovereign unified nation, meaning having a joint military and fused economies.
Most importantly, one wonders if would North Korean citizens be allowed in the south. If this were to happen, culture, education and employment on the peninsula would drastically shift.
History is in the making here, one can’t predict what will happen next, but it’s something to be optimistic about while closely watching as the answers unfold.