Haste is dangerousThe leaders of the two Koreas will formerly discuss replacing the 1953 armistice with some kind of permanent peace regime in their April 27 summit meeting. In a conference with media organization heads, President Moon Jae-in said the two Koreas must explore ways to end the truce to formerly put an end to the war status and establish a permanent peace structure. During a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Donald Trump confirmed that South Korea is discussing with North Korea whether they can end the war. “And they have my blessing on that,” he said. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China is “open and supportive to any peaceful means to resolve the Korean Peninsula” situation when asked if Beijing supports a peace treaty.
It would be a blessing to the entire Korean race if the de facto war status quo is ended. A truce was arranged to end the three-year war, and people on both sides of the border have been technically at war for more than half a century. North Korea over the years committed deadly attacks on South Koreans numerous times. It is now armed with nuclear weapons. We have lived with a ticking time bomb over our heads. Few in this land would not wish for a more secure future. The shift to a peaceful regime is undoubtedly the right direction.
The question is the timing and conditions. A peace treaty should be signed when conditions ensure actual peace. The western powers hurriedly arranged the Paris Peace Accords in 1973 to end the Vietnam War that began in 1955. As soon as American forces pulled out, North Vietnam started another war, defeating the South and communizing the country. Over the years, more than 100,000 people from South Vietnam were executed and 1 million were sent to prison camps. It took decades for the Vietnamese to rebuild their nation. Yemen is another tragic case. North and South Yemen united in 1990, but they entered another civil war in 1994 due to discrepancies in power and wealth. The civil war is still ongoing, making the land one of the Arab world’s poorest countries. This is why there are as many concerns as hopes.
After a peace treaty is signed, the combined South Korea-U.S. forces will lose justification. The South will be alone against any future North Korean threat under a peace settlement without the protection of the United States. If a peace treaty is signed hastily, we could end up as a Vietnam or Yemen. Let’s wait until North Korea is entirely disarmed of nuclear weapons and the South is safe from any military threat.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 21, Page 34