On July 27, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held a summit and adopted the Panmunjom Declaration.
"The South and the North have agreed that main measures taken by North Korea were very meaningful and important measures for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and would fulfill their responsibilities and roles in the future," the two leaders said.
President Moon called himself a guarantor of North Korea's commitment to its denuclearization. "The South and the North have agreed to make an active effort to earn support and cooperation from the international community for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," the South Korean president said
Efforts to denuclearize North Korea have failed every time. The failures, which have been repeated for nearly 30 years, are still calling into question the authenticity of North Korea's will to denuclearize itself.
US President Donald Trump expressed his willingness to hold a summit with the North Korean leader in a meeting with Chung Eui-yong, director of the National Security Office of South Korea who visited Washington last month as a special envoy for South Korean President Moon. In the same month, Mike Pompeo who was a Secretary of State nominee, was sent to North Korea and exchanged opinions on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula with the North Korean leader.
North Korea made a decision to halt nuclear and ICBM tests and shut down the Punggye-ri nuclear test facilities at a general meeting of the Labor Party on April 20. It is expected that the North Korea-US summit will discuss the outline of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula based on the decision.
However, it cannot be ruled out that denuclearization talks between North Korea and the United States may be stalled due to problems such as an IAEA inspection of the denuclearization process.
However, after signing the Panmunjom Declaration, North Korean leader Kim said, "We will make efforts to communicate and cooperate closely with the world to prevent the declaration from becoming a dead letter like previous inter-Korean agreements." Thus, some experts said that North Korea will put its utmost efforts toward denuclearization, while there could be ups and downs in the process.
‘Kim Jong-un Looked Relaxed but Actually Stands on a Precipice’
North Korean authorities have instructed its embassies and diplomatic missions abroad to intensively file reports about foreign new media reports and their host countries’ responses regarding the 2018 Inter-Korean summit, Radio Free Asia (RFA), a North Korea-specializing media outlet, reported on April 27 (local time).
"The North Korean leader looked relaxed in the summit meeting on April 27 but the Kim Jong-un regime used the last resort as it stands on the edge of a cliff. Therefore, North Korea came to the table with considerable urgency, betting all on the success of the inter-Korean meeting with the world watching," RFA claimed.
Accordingly, it will be good for North Korea if the inter-Korean summit is successfully held and international situations change rapidly but otherwise, Kim Jong-un will face strong challenges from high ranking government officials and the people.
Opposition Liberty Korea Party Calls Inter-Korean Summit ‘Sugar-Coated Political Show’
The opposition Liberty Korea Party of South Korea continued to criticize the inter-Korean deal, asserting that the agreement on North Korea giving up its nuclear program was a show.
On April 26, Hong Joon-pyo, the leader of the Liberty Korea Party, called the South-North Korean Summit a "fake peace show" in an interview with Japan’s Asahi TV and said that only leftists supported the Inter-Korean Summit. Lawmaker Na Kyung-won of the same party called the Panmunjom Declaration “egregious” in her SNS, saying, "Discussions on denuclearization will eventually give North Korea more time to build its nuclear arsenal."
"The Panmunjom Declaration announced today confirmed that there was no North Korean intention to give up its nuclear arsenals, but rather that it is nothing more than South Korea’s unilateral disarming and opening of its economy to the North," said Jeon Hee-kyung, a spokesperson for the conservative party. “The deal is like putting the cart before the horse so it is very disappointing. We cannot help but be concerned about the future of the Korean Peninsula."
North Korea Media Report ‘Complete Denuclearization’ Without Alteration
On April 28, the North Korean media used the phrase “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” when reporting on the original texts of the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Reunification on the Korean Peninsula, which was adopted by South Korean President Moon and North Korean leader Kim.
In the past, the North Korean media intentionally omitted or briefly reported some contents of inter-Korean agreements that they did not want the North Korean people to know. But this time, they cited the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula without any change. This is construed as North Korea’s intention to prove its will for the denuclearization of North Korea prior to the North Korea-US summit meeting expected to be held this June.
“North and South Korea confirmed their common goal of realizing a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula through complete denuclearization," the North Korean Central News Agency said. The news agency mentioned Clause 4 of Article 3 of the declaration by saying, “Both sides agreed that major measures taken by the North and the South were very meaningful and significant for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and they would fulfill their own responsibilities and roles in the future."
North Korea has thus far used the term "denuclearization" only in the context of refusing denuclearization, such as when they say “there is no "denuclearization talks with the United States." In light of this practice, it is extremely unusual for North Korea to express its willingness to denuclearize itself through its media.
The clause also appeared in the state-run Rodong Sinmun Newspaper’s report on the declaration on this day. While the North Korean Central News Agency is a media outlet for conveying messages to the outside, the Rodong Sinmun Newspaper is an outlet for people in North Korea. The newspaper filled four of its six pages with summit meeting news. The daily offered a detailed account of the whole process of the summit from the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders to their farewell. It carried a total of 61 various photos.
US Vows to Continue Putting Pressure on North Korea until Denuclearization
On April 26 (local time), the US White House released a photo of a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (right) and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeoin Pyonngyang, North Korea.
US Vice President Mike Pence welcomed the Panmunjom Declaration in which the South and North Korean leaders agreed on the principle of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula on April 27 (local time). But Pence said that the US’s pressure would be maintained until denuclearization measures were actually implemented. He meant that the US would not repeat the past mistakes of the US giving rewards with agreements being scrapped in the middle of the process.
"I was encouraged by the goal of the complete denuclearization of North Korea agreed on by the leaders of the two Koreas, but I will check details of the agreement," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a meeting with reporters at the NATO foreign ministers' meeting in the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on the day. Pompeo also reminded them of the US concept of complete denuclearization once again. "Our goal has not changed," he said. "We are committed to dismantling North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction program permanently, verifiably and irreversibly without delay.”
“I’m always careful. There’s a lot of history here, where promises have been made, hopes have been raised and then dashed,” Pompeo said, hinting at the possibility of North Korea breaking its promise. “We will continue to put mounting global pressure on North Korea until the complete denuclearization of North Korea. These talks and any others do not supersede any UN Security Council resolutions or any other sanctions."