An armistice ended the fighting on the peninsula 65 years ago, but not the war. The anniversary represents a symbolic target for the North’s Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in of South Korea to sign the peace treaty they discussed during an historic summit at the border on Apr 27.
Millions of people died in the Korean War, which began on Jun 25, 1950, and civilian deaths outnumbered military deaths. The two leaders agreed during their summit to push towards turning the armistice into a peace treaty in 2018. The rapprochement began in January when Kim suggested he was “open to dialogue” with South Korea. The two countries marched under one flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, held in the South. The summit came as a surprise. North Korea had continued its nuclear and missile tests and stepped up its militant rhetoric through 2016 and 2017, and Kim and United States President Donald Trump had engaged in a spate of apocalyptic threats, taunts and name-calling just weeks before the Olympics. The Korean leaders agreed at the meeting to work toward ridding the peninsula of nuclear weapons. The prospects for the peace treaty depend on whether negotiations on denuclearization between the United States and both Koreas stay on track following the Jun 12 summit between Trump and the North Korean leader in Singapore. The BBC notes that previous inter-Korean agreements have included similar pledges but were later abandoned after the North resorted to nuclear and missile tests and the South elected more conservative presidents.
Date written/update: 2018-06-15