North and South Korea are in talks to announce a permanent end to the officially declared military conflict between the two countries, daily newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed South Korean official.
Pyongyang and Seoul have technically been at war since the 1950-1953 Korean conflict ended with a truce — and not a peace treaty. Geopolitical tensions have occasionally flared up since the armistice, although to date both countries have managed to avoid another devastating conflict.
Donald Trump endorsed this direction as his administration prepares for an unprecedented summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
The Olympics Factor
The South Korean Winter Olympics were instrumental to lead to the peaceful resolution, after North Korea carved out a space for dialogue by dispatching athletes to South Korea for the Winter Olympics – along with Mr Kim’s sister.
As the Games began in Pyeongchang, the South Korean and North Korean athletes walked in the opening ceremony as a joint team.
It was a moment heavy in symbolism, with their shared flag a neutral image of a “unified” Korean peninsula on a white backdrop.
Then, Kim Yo-jong – the sister of Kim Jong-un – went on a so-called Olympic charm offensive, a joint women’s ice hockey team played and a squad of North Korean cheerleaders enthralled audiences around the world.
This was followed up with additional meetings between North Korean and South Korean leaders. Later Mr Kim conveyed to Mr Trump an extraordinary invitation to meet. The American president has accepted the face-to-face encounter, which Mr Kim floated as part of an effort to “denuclearise” the Korean peninsula, according to a South Korean official. Mr Kim also pledge to halt new weapons tests.