On the 13th of December, 2021, North and South Korea agreed to end the Korean War in principle.
Despite it being nearly 70 years since an armistice was signed to end the violence on the peninsula, there was no treaty. As a result, the nations have been technically at war. While the two sides have now agreed to the general terms of ending the war, “in principle” means that no details have hashed out.
The announcement from South Korean President Moon Jae-in comes as a potential signal that tensions can cool between the two nations. While there have always been historic tensions between the two sides, they have been heightened in recent months as there has been an arms race on the Korean peninsula.
Moon desperately wants to further negotiate the terms of the agreement, but the North Koreans have refused as they fear potential US hostility towards North Korea. However, on a more positive note, Moon hopes that a formal treaty could lead to talks about the denuclearization of North Korea.
Moon hopes to continue communication with North Korea at the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. It is highly anticipated that top North Korean officials, including leader Kim Jong-Un, will attend the games, and Moon plans to send diplomats to Beijing to negotiate.
However, Moon has a difficult task ahead of him. Beyond getting through to Kim Jong-Un, Moon is “trying to maintain a harmonious relationship with China while building on a solid alliance with the United States.”
And as the US and China are in a political and economic power struggle to the top of the world, Moon must somehow appease both. The US has protected South Korea from the North for over 70 years, and Moon certainly cannot upset the Americans now.
On the other hand, Moon cannot fully commit to an alliance with the US as he fears it would upset the Chinese, whom he needs as Beijing has a strong influence over the North.