Kim the Peacemaker: Will North Korean Leader Receive Nobel Prize if He Brings Peace to Peninsula?

Pyongyang has set a course for a rapprochement with Seoul. In any case, this is what North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said in his special address to the nation. According to him, they shouldn't stir up the past — it's time to normalize relations and reconcile the nation. However, this process doesn't fully depend on the will of North Korea and South Korea.

The head of our East Asian office, Sergey Mingazhev, is reporting on the reaction of those who have exacerbated the situation on the peninsula over the past months.

 

Panmunjom is in the heart of the demilitarized zone. The soldiers of North Korea and South Korea stand here opposite one another. Any provocation can instantly degenerate into an armed conflict. The border runs straight through the center of the table, over which the South Korean minister of Unification and his North Korean counterpart exchanged handshakes on January 9 for the first time in the past 2 years. Kim Jong-un's statement about his readiness to revive inter-Korean reconciliation and to send the North Korean team to the Olympics in Pyeongchang was one of the biggest scoops of the new year.

Kim Jong-un: "If South Korea does seek reconciliation and unification, we will keep the door open for dialogue, contacts, and exchanges with everyone, including the South Korean administration, opposition parties, groups of people and individuals from a wide range of areas."

It's unclear if the upcoming talks will cover North Korea's nuclear program and its participation in the Winter Games, but Kim Jong-un dwelt on it in his New Year's address. A statement that a nuclear button is always on his desk and that the entire continental US is within the strike range of North Korean missiles got a response overseas.

Having declared that his nuclear button is bigger, Donald Trump suddenly changed his bellicose rhetoric, arguing that it was thanks to him that inter-Korean dialogue resumed.

Donald Trump: "It's a start, it's a big start. If I hadn't engaged, they would not be discussing the Olympics now, they would not have any talks at all, and everything would be much more serious".

New York Times reports that, unlike the US president, the US special services have a completely different opinion on the results of the US policy toward North Korea: "At a speed that caught American intelligence officials off guard, Mr. Kim rolled out new missile technology. The inability to foresee the North’s rapid strides over the past several months now ranks among America’s most significant intelligence failures".

Trump's statement of his willingness to talk with Kim Jong-un personally signals about possible changes in Washington's policy.

Donald Trump: "He knows I'm not messing around, not even a little bit. He understands it. At the same time if we can come up with a very peaceful and good solution, if something can come out of those talks, that would be a great thing for all of humanity".

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who, following the US, stated that it was too late to talk to Pyongyang, now welcomes the beginning of inter-Korean dialogue, stressing that it should center on North Korea's nuclear disarmament.

Shinzo Abe: "The only thing that can flesh out the talks is Pyongyang's firm and convincing intention to give up on nuclear weapons in a comprehensive, verifiable and irreversible way".

Now that Pyongyang already has a hydrogen bomb and delivery vehicles, it's even more difficult to persuade it to give up on nuclear weapons. Moreover, Kim Jong-un made it clear that he would only ramp up his strategic arms program this year.

Sergey Mingazhev, Alexei Pechko for Vesti's East Asian Office

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