By Ayaan Ali
New York City, New York
During the 75th United Nations General Assembly on September 22, South Korean President Moon-Jae-in pressured other world leaders to help bring the seven decade-long Korean War to a formal end. In 2018, an armistice ended the fighting and an agreement was signed by the UN command (led by the U.S.), North Korea and China. However, South Korea never signed the agreement because they wanted a formal peace treaty.
This is the latest attempt by the South Korean president to revive talks surrounding the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. However, his previous efforts have done little, as President Trump rejected relief sanctions and walked out of their second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam last February.
“The war must end completely and for good,” Moon said in a virtual conference. Moon and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un pledged in 2018 to help formally end the war; however, that has been an elusive goal. This is primarily because the U.S. fears that a peace treaty would disincentivize keeping American troops within the Korean peninsula, which would remove pressure on North Korea to denuclearize. The denuclearization of North Korea is vital because of concerns about the instability of Kim’s regime, his government’s human rights violations, and risk of nuclear fallout.
Furthermore, on June 25, the 70th anniversary of the war, tensions spiked as Kim rejected Moon’s pleas to restart talks between the nations. In June, North Korea destroyed the $15 million South Korean liaison office which served as the de-facto embassy for relations between the North and South. However, Moon remained optimistic and said that “the end of war declaration will, indeed, open the door to complete denuclearization and a permanent peace regime on the Korean peninsula.” The Korean War has been one of the most devastating results of the Cold War with nearly three million fatalities. A formal end to the war would be the first step in a long process to rebuild the relationship between the once united North and South Korea.