Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Third Korean Summit

In Korea, we have four Chinese characters which make a noun phrase, an idiom that describes a situation or feeling a proverb like expression. Something like our own Latin expressions from the past that come up often in print and in our conversations.

In the Catholic Peace Weekly, an article begins with the four-letters (寧靜致遠) which in English would
mean to face the future with peace and tranquillity in our hearts ('festina lente' make haste slowly may be one understanding of the phrase). 
He reminisces over what has happened in recent weeks with our relationship with North Korea. We have those who were moved to tears at what they heard and saw in the media, on the other hand, those who acted with anger seeing the way the enemy was welcomed. In both cases we had too much emotion, which our writer does not believe is the way to go.

This is the third inter Korean summit between the North and South. The first summit was held in Pyongyang in 2000 between former President Kim Dae-Jung and the former Korean leader Kim Jong-il. We expected peace on the Korean peninsula. The second summit was between Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jong-il in 2007 with similar hopes raised.

The recent Panmunjom Declaration was the third summit. President Moon and Kim Jong-un agreed to the  denuclearization of the peninsula, the end of the 65 years cease-fire, and the establishment of a peace regime in preparation for the coming summit with the United States.

The first summit broke down with hostilities in the Yellow Sea between the North and South. At the second summit, they made plans to overcome these problems but failed. After the third summit, they installed a hotline, hoping for a thorough preparation.  
Trust between the North and South is necessary and this requires keeping the promises. We need to practice what is contained in the Panmunjom Declaration. The agreement is more important than the declaration, a consensus process and experts and ongoing staff for study is necessary and the accompaniment of society.

The efforts in the past have for various reasons failed to bring about any peace treaty. In 1990 with great efforts at preparation on four different occasions, it failed to get the approval of the national assembly. In 1994 in the Geneva accord, the Clinton government and North Korea signed an agreement but this fell apart for they failed to get the approval of Congress.

Real peace will come when the Panmunjom Declaration becomes an agreement. For this to happen it requires the cooperation of the opposition party. Otherwise with the change of government you go back to the beginning. Better than going two steps forward alone is to go one half step together. This is progress. May God help us.