Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The two Koreas begin a new era

Kim Jong-un announced at the 5th Session of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) the intention to restore North-South communication lines. At 9:00 a.m. on Monday, October 4, Pyongyang took the phone off the hook to Seoul. Fifty-five days after these were suspended by the North Korean side. Perhaps we should not be surprised, because “they are obliged to understand each other” we might think, but since this announcement was made and what was said, events have not stopped happening on both sides of the 38th parallel, the armistice line between the two Koreas.

The South Korean Unification Ministry informed that same day that the will of the South Korean government is to establish the basis for improving North-South relations and that it expects the dialogue to become fluid again in order to be able to talk about the implementation of agreements and the horizons of peace on the Korean peninsula.

On Tuesday it was said that the first calls had already been made, one at nine o’clock in the morning and another at five o’clock in the afternoon. And not only that: the Ministry of Unification commented that an attempt would be made to have North and South Korea participate under the same flag for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

On Wednesday, North Korea pledged to improve its friendly relations with China on the occasion of the 72nd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two. And on the same day, the US State Department called on the international community, through the United Nations Security Council, to apply sanctions against North Korea.

On Thursday, the South Korean Ministry of Unification announced its willingness to open a humanitarian aid corridor at the request of three civic platforms, whose names were not provided, to help children, pregnant women and citizens at risk.

On Friday, Unification Ministry deputy spokesman Cha Deok-cheol said that land restrictions remain in place on the North Korean land border between the two Koreas, but not on the North Korean maritime ones. Although he confirmed that there has been a relaxation of measures between Dandong, China, and Sinuiju, North Korea.

Earlier in the day, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addressed South Korea during his speech to the Diet, referring to it as an important neighboring country with which he hopes to maintain forward-looking bilateral relations.

Relations between Seoul and Tokyo have been strained since the 2018 Korean Supreme Court ruling that forced a Japanese company to compensate four South Koreans during World War II. In addition to South Korea’s continued requests for Japan to apologize and acknowledge the case of the ‘comfort and rest ladies’ who were raped, abused and killed during the Japanese occupation of the peninsula.

North Korea’s approaches are a willingness to re-establish avenues of dialogue with South Korea, without the influence of the United States or Japan. In fact, it was annoying that the South Korean government congratulated the new Japanese Prime Minister when Japan has not yet asked for forgiveness for the atrocities caused by the Japanese occupation of Korea, including the case of the so-called comfort and rest ladies, who were women who were forced to accompany Japanese officers, being abused and mistreated in many cases by them.

Even so, an open hand. Even to negotiate with the United States as long as it ceases its continued aggressions with military maneuvers or sanctions.

And, on the other hand, South Korea is also willing to establish new channels of dialogue between Seoul and Pyongyang, while asking the United States for full coordination in the measures to be taken so as not to harm future relations and contacts between the two Koreas.

The will of the Cheongwadae, the seat of the South Korean executive branch, also known as the Blue House, is to reestablish the agreements reached two years ago, when President Moon was invited to Pyongyang by Kim Jong-un. Those agreements and talks marked a turning point and a point of no return between the two countries, and that the main allies of both countries, the United States and China, support them.

This weekend is very relevant on the Korean peninsula. Hangul Day, this Saturday, which commemorates the creation of the Korean alphabet, is considered one of the most important holidays in South Korea in honor of Sejong the Great (15th century). And tomorrow, Sunday, is Workers’ Party Day, which celebrates its 72nd anniversary. It is considered to be when Juche and Songun thought took shape to this day.