A rigid dichotomy exists between North and South Korea. The separation of the two Koreas occurred in 1945, but tensions truly became apparent in 1950r when Kim Il-sung, the leader of North Korea at that time, tried to reunite the two nations under a communist rule by invading South Korea. The result was the three-year long struggle known as the Korean War, ultimately killing millions of people.
Unfortunately, the war was not successful at reunifying the Koreas.
South and North Korea continued their feud, until 1998 when a diplomatic solution presented itself. The Sunshine Policy attempted to increase communication and mitigate the economic gap between the two States by prohibiting use of arms, absorption of any of the two nations, and promoting cooperation.
However, this attempt only proved futile. Despite its careful planning and organization, North Korea eventually began taking provocative measures by developing weapons. South Korea viewed this as an act of aggression so the Sunshine Policy Act was terminated.
Since then, the two Koreas have remained in a conflict. Currently, tensions are at an all-time high. North Korea has been actively testing missiles, the most recent one capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. The long range of these missiles poses a threat to both the U.S. and South Korea’s security.
For decades, the ongoing struggle between South and North Korea has not triggered any major issues. However, the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics (hosted in Pyeongchang County, South Korea) poses a problem. Whether or not South Korea feels comfortable in welcoming North Korea into their territory to compete is currently in dispute.
Recently, on January 8, 2018, North and South Korean officials met face to face to discuss whether the North would send a delegation to the games. This was the first face-to-face meeting of these two nations in two years. According to an article by CNN, “the IOC reiterated that it remains open to the North’s participation”. For now, these two Koreas seem to repairing their strained relationship in light of the Olympic Games.
Although most citizens are in favor of the Olympic Games bringing about a potential reconciliation, North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), thinks differently. CNN records the KCNA’s latest thoughts, “This fact that South Korea is trying so hard to achieve our participation of the winter games clearly reveals their wicked intent of leading us into giving up nuclear weapons”. This statement opens up the possibility about malicious intent behind the friendly hand that South Korea has extended.
Nevertheless, the majority of the people have faith that the bad blood the two nations have maintained with each other will dissipate in the presence of these global games, or at least for a while. Because of this belief and North Korea agreeing to send a delegation to the games, it is believed that the torn relationship can be mended.
The future of these two Koreas still hang in the balance, for this feud has existed for more than seventy years. Whether or not an event as large as the Winter Olympics can reconcile these nations is purely up to them. The rest of the world can hope.
Article by Moco Student staff writer Faith Cheung of Richard Montgomery High School