North and South Korea

This week, South Korea began dismantling loud speakers which had been used to send propaganda messages across the border between itself and North Korea for years.  The removal of these speakers is the latest in a series of gestures made since the two Korean leaders, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s President Kim Jong-un, met last week.

This historic meeting was the first time both the leaders of Korea have met in more than a decade.  The talks took place in the Southern part of the country, but during the photo-call, President Moon was pictured stepping into North Korea’s territory.

The meeting which followed led to a statement in which the two sides agreed to work towards a number of things, including the denuclearisation of North Korea, improving relations between the two countries and reducing border tensions.

The removal of the loud speakers on Monday was momentous as they have been there since the 1960s transmitting everything from Korean pop music to news reports into the north, with the aim of encouraging the North Korean population to doubt the regime.  It is thought that North Korea will dismantle its loud speakers too.

News of this inter-Korean summit has been welcomed around the world as tensions in the area had reached a level not seen before, following North Korea’s testing of nuclear weapons last year.

Last week’s meeting between the two leaders does seem to indicate that all sides are looking for a road to peace.

I welcome these developments, but we must proceed with caution and not set our expectations too high.

As the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said last week ‘this historic summit is not the end in itself and there are still many questions to be answered.’

We need to see this commitment from Kim Jong Un to stop all nuclear and ballistic missile tests followed through, but only time will tell if this leader, who has been intent on building weapons, really does want to sit down and negotiate a lasting peace.