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The United States and North and South Korea Elusive Quest for Peace

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The United States and North and South Korea Elusive Quest for Peace

Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un finally meet at a hitoric summit at Singapore.

Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un finally meet at a hitoric summit at Singapore.

Shealah Craighead By White House - https://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse/photos/a.1709578419129884.1073741881.1191441824276882/1711396292281430/?type=3&theater, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71084742

Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un finally meet at a hitoric summit at Singapore.

Shealah Craighead By White House - https://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse/photos/a.1709578419129884.1073741881.1191441824276882/1711396292281430/?type=3&theater, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71084742

Shealah Craighead By White House - https://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse/photos/a.1709578419129884.1073741881.1191441824276882/1711396292281430/?type=3&theater, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71084742

Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un finally meet at a hitoric summit at Singapore.

Javier Ortega, Journalist

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For many centuries, Korea was a united country. In 1905, Korea was occupied by Japan after the Russo-Japanese war. Korea was under Japanese rule for 35 years until the end of World War II.  This was when the two Korean nations were born. The Soviet Union occupied North Korea, while a military government, supported by the US, was established in South Korea. In 1950, the Korean War ensued. Three years later, North Korea and South Korea were officially divided at the 38th parallel, an area known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone. The two Korean governments have been in conflict ever since.

Even though the two countries share a border, there is a stark difference between the two of them. The North is a communist country that has been led by a family dynasty. While the South is a capitalist country that has been led by elected officials. In present day, the life of a North Korean family is extremely different than the life of a South Korean family. According to a Business Insider report published in April 8, 2013, the following differences stand out:

 

North Korea South Korea
GDP(purchasing power) $40 billion $1,622 billion
GDP per capital $1,800 $32,400
Exports $4.71 billion $552.6 billion
Access to Internet 0.1% 81.5%
Life Expectancy 69.2 years 79.3 years
Intentional Homicide Rate (per 100,000) 15.2 2.6
People Serving in the Military 1.19 million 655,000

 

Recent US presidents have placed tough economic sanctions on North Korea on an attempt to force North Korea to abandon their nuclear program. However president Trump has taken a different approach. In a statement made in August of 2017, president Trump warned the North Korean leader with the following announcement: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” President Trump made this statement after the news that North Korea had developed a warhead that could be mounted on a ballistic missile. According to a USA TODAY article published on August 9, 2017, this statement “represented some of the most bellicose language uttered by any presidents since World War II.”  

Eight months later after president Trump made his “fire and fury” statement the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in made history by meeting for the first time in agreement to end the Korean War. At the end of their meeting both leaders issued a joint statement committing to seek a “complete denuclearization of the peninsula.” A BBC article published on April 28, 2018 listed the following agreements between the two leaders:

 

  • An end to “hostile activities” between the two nations
  • Change the Demilitarized Zone that divides the country into a “peace zone”
  • An arms reduction in the region
  • Four way talks involving the US and China
  • Organizing a reunion of families left divided by the war

 

After their first meeting, the two leaders met a second time in late May to discuss Kim’s schedule meeting with Trump, which took place in June of 2018. Ever since, North and South Korea’s relationship with one another have improved. South Korea no longer conducts military exercises with the United States. The two countries resumed military vessels’ radio communications. In the 2018 Asian Games, both countries competed as one “Korea.” In August 2018, families that had been divided since the Korean War were reunited, and on November 30, 2018, a South Korean train crossed into North Korean territory since 2008.

It’s hard to believe that a year and a half after president Trump’s “fire and fury” statement, North and South Korea and the United States have made so much progress towards a peaceful Korean peninsula. When 8th grader, Melanie Salas Quintana was asked if it was a good idea for Trump to have been so confrontational with North Korea, she said “Why would you threaten someone who has the power to destroy our country.” 10th grader, Anthony Lopez said “No, knowing all the outcomes that could’ve happened.” However, not everyone is so optimistic about the outcome of these summits. When 8th grader, Ricardo Luquez Aguilar was asked if he is hopeful that the two halves of Korea will be united as one nation he said “No. Mostly likely not because of Kim’s false claims.” When asked what “false claims” he was referring to, Ricardo said “That he was going to denuclearize but never did.” Part of the conditions to unify Korea is that North Korea will agree to denuclearize. When 10th grader, Anthony Lopez was asked if the United States should trust that the North Korean leader will comply to this request, Anthony sounded a little skeptical. “It’s always safe to have a back up plan just in case something were to happen,” he responded.

 

 

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