Autumn in Pyeongyang, By Kwak Sung-kyu
By Kwak Sung-kyu
Autumn has come in the Korean Peninsula, especially in Pyeongyang. Following previous inter-Korea summit meetings in April and May, for the third time the leaders from the two Koreas met in Pyeongyang, the capital city of North Korea from 18 to 20 September.
The rapprochement between South and North Korea and the cordial friendship between their leaders got closer and matured, just like the season of autumn growing deeper.
President Moon’s visit to North Korea was an epoch-making event. Remarkably impressive was the warmest and most enthusiastic hospitality that North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un has extended to President Moon Jae-in.
President Moon Jae-in made a live speech before 150,000 North Korean public in the May Day Stadium, which was the first-ever one by a South head of state in Pyeongyang.
His message was emotional. “We had lived together for 5,000 years and have lived separately for only 70 years. I ask all of you to end those hostilities and take a big step toward reunification”.
Another surprising scene was seeing the two leaders climb together Mount Paektu, regarded as a sacred mountain by all the Korean people, conveying the symbolic message that they are determined to bring about a new era of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.
Signing up Pyeongyang Joint Declaration of September 2018, the two leaders worked out very conspicuous outcomes. ①Among others, a practical progress was made in the denuclearization issue. Mr. Kim Jong-un with his live voice clearly declared at the joint press conference, “I and President Moon made a firm commitment to exert active efforts to make the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons and nuclear threat and turn it into a land of peace.”
The North agreed to permanently dismantle a missile-engine test facility, and a missile launchpad in Dongchangri, and to allow experts from concerned countries to watch this process. North Korea further promised to take additional steps including the permanent dismantlement of facilities at its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, if the US takes corresponding measures.
②The two leaders agreed to expand cessation of military hostility in confrontational territorial/aerial/maritime regions and to prevent accidental military clashes. ③They also agreed to pursue substantial measures to further advance exchanges and economic cooperation on the spirit of mutual benefit and shared prosperity, including rail and road connections, south-north environmental cooperation etc. ④In addition, they agreed to strengthen humanitarian cooperation to fundamentally resolve the issue of separated families. ⑤They also agreed to actively promote exchange and cooperation in the fields of culture, art and sports to enhance the atmosphere of reconciliation and unity.
The story of opening a new future to the Korean people has not come to an end yet. The next chapter to open will be the North Korean leader’s visit to South Korea. Expectedly before the end of this year, he will be in Seoul. If his visit took place in reality, it would be the first one of any North Korean leader and also another dramatic moment in inter-Korea history.
I would like to add up one more touching story. On his way back to South Korea, President Moon was given two tons of the best quality pine mushrooms produced in North Korea by the North’s leader as a gift. In the past, if there were any gifts from the North, they may have been customarily distributed among high-level politicians, bureaucrats and journalists in South Korea.
However, the given pine mushrooms were, in accordance with President’s consideration, equally shared by all the separated families that could not have a chance for tentative family reunion with their beloved ones in the North. One face-book friend of mine posted a moving photo in his timeline. In his photo, an old lady above ninety, his grandmother-in-law, was crying with a box of pine mushrooms from the North. In her hand was a card from the President which recognized the North’s gift. I commented on his post, saying “What a wonderfully respectable leader we have!” President Moon, he is really a thoughtful leader as well as a peace-maker in the Korean Peninsula.
The writer is Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Pakistan.
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