After opening 2019 with great expectations for the peace process, inter-Korean relations entered a downward spiral before seemingly returning to the state of nuclear crisis prior to 2019.
Opening of dialogue with North Korea at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in February 2018 led to April’s inter-Korean summit, followed by a historic meeting of the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea in June.
Before welcoming 2019, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a personal letter to President Moon Jae-in, expressing his will to move forward in the denuclearization and peace process on the Korean Peninsula.
By the end of February 2019, however, the second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump broke down in Hanoi, after the two sides failed to agree on whether the North’s denuclearization steps or U.S. sanctions relief should come first. The breakdown of the Hanoi summit aggravated inter-Korean ties.
In March, North Korea notified the South of its withdrawal from the inter-Korean liaison office in the border town of Gaeseong and failed to implement the two Koreas’ military deal to diffuse tensions on the peninsula. In May, the North launched an armed protest by conducting a series of short-range missile tests and even refused to accept the South’s rice aid through an international agency.
The chilled inter-Korean ties was most evident at the two Koreas’ FIFA World Cup qualifier in Pyongyang on October 15, where neither entry of spectators nor a live broadcast of the match was allowed. Moreover, Kim ordered a demolition of South Korean tourism facilities at Mount Geumgang, a symbolic site of the two Koreas’ economic cooperation. Pyongyang didn’t hesitate to make blunt remarks about Moon.
Amid North Korea’s strategy to exclude South Korea from dialogue, there are growing calls in the South for the Moon administration to consider a policy change regarding the North.
Photo : KBS News