A Time for Peace: Is the Korean War at an End?

A Time for Peace: Is the Korean War at an End?

For many people who experience or know the impact of the Korean War, Friday stands as monumental day following the 2018 Inter-Korean Summit. The leaders of North and South Korea, Kim Jong Un and President Moon Jae-In, have agreed to put an end to the Korean War, nearly seventy years after the war began.

The leaders met outside the village of Panmunjom Friday to discuss relations between their two countries and have signed an agreement to bring peace to the Korean peninsula.

The agreement, known as the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity, and Unification of the Korean Peninsula acts as a definitive pact towards a peace treaty for the war, which was never signed following the armistice in 1953.

How It All Began

The division of Korea was a result of the Potsdam conference following World War II. The Soviet Union and the United States resolved to take Japanese surrender from either side of the 38th parallel, as the peninsula had been under Japanese rule since 1910.

The U.S. occupied the southern half of the nation, while the Soviets controlled the north. This was meant to be a temporary arrangement, however; as relations between the former allies worsened, Korea became a hotspot of hostility between the U.S. and U.S.S.R.

North Koreans favored the communist policies of the Soviets, while the South Koreans preferred the opposite. A vote was called by the United States to decide what the future of the Korean peninsula looked like in 1948.

When North Korea refused to participate, South Korea embraced its separate identity by establishing an independent government in Seoul, led by anti-communist (and later dictator) Syngman Rhee. In response, former guerilla resistance fighter Kim Il-Sung was instated as North Korea’s first premier in Pyeongyang.

The Spark of War

With the nations strongly divided under the influence of the U.S. and Soviet Union and in identity, when roughly 75,000 North Korean soldiers crossed the 38th parallel to invade South Korea in 1950, the Korean War began and the Cold War intensified.  

The U.S. demanded the U.N. Security Council allow American military assistance to aid in South Korea. With the help of American soldiers, South Korean soldiers then marched on North Korea. Unfortunately, due to North Korea’s relationship with China, Chinese forces retaliated, creating a deadly stand-off that lasted for three years.

An Indefinite Resolution

On July 27, 1953, the United States and North Korea signed an armistice putting an end to the bloodshed and for all intents and purposes, ending the Korean War. However, as history prevails, to officially declare a war over, a peace treaty must be signed. Nevertheless, the countries have maintained some hostility towards each other, and the demilitarized zone of the 38th parallel between them remains heavily fortified.

In recent years, the nations have taken steps to improve their relationship, but only in the last few months has North Korea taken significant strides to show interest in once again bringing peace and unity to the Korean people, as noted at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.

Until Friday, both North and South Korea had not taken mutual steps toward a definitive resolution to the conflict, not to mention ones that may drastically improve relations between the two nations for the present time.

It has taken a lot of persistence and time for Korea to one more become a truly peaceful nation, but this past week has brought a new tide for the people of the Korean peninsula and the rest of the world.