The significance of South Korea’s move to talk with the North

The significance of South Korea’s move to talk with the North

South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye has announced she is ready to meet the leader of North Korea, President Kim Jong-un without pre-conditions. The intention is to reduce suffering caused by partition of the two countries, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein.

Both Koreas want to see their countries united. Leaders of the two countries have only met twice, in 2000 and 2007, since the Korean War - which divided the peninsula - ended in 1953. The north sees reunification through military force, the south through peaceful measures especially economic ties.

It is obvious that the northern unification programme, although backed by its nuclear might, is just fiction. The use of nuclear weapons by North Korea would mean immediate self-destruction as other countries retaliated.

South Korea is a successful and booming economy, whereas the north remains one of the poorest and least-developed countries and totally dependent on China. China has a strategic interest in preserving the partition but strongly disagrees with President Kim Jong-un who came to power in 2012.

Up to now, South Korea has not agreed to a summit unless the north stopped its nuclear weapons testing programme. President Park Geun-hye now appears to have changed that condition.

This change makes sense when you are serious about reunification. Although there are no grounds for a wider agreement with President Kim Jong-un, it could result in easing travel for separated families. The last formal high-level talks were in February 2014 and led to rare reunions for Korean families separated for more than 60 years.

Talks with a political counterpart, even one who is despised, can be helpful, especially coming from a strong position.

As it is unlikely that North Korea can destabilise the South, there is no downside from such a meeting for President Park. She has given a clear signal she is serious and prepared to meet even if it does not happen immediately.

Related reports:

Threat of global conflict between the West, Russia and China is increasing

Chilling testimony of the evils of North Korea’s regime

Korean dreams of reunification

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