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North and South Korea reportedly set to announce official end to war (cnbc.com)
128 points by artsandsci on Apr 17, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 85 comments



This appears to be very thinly sourced, specifically: "Newspaper Munhwa Ilbo cited an unnamed South Korean intelligence source".

I don't know how reliable that newspaper is, but the fact that it's an unnamed intelligence source as well makes me skeptical.

Hopefully it's true though.


Here's a New York Times article on the subject: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/17/world/asia/kim-jong-un-no... -- it appears a "high-ranking Official" from the South was the source behind the article.


The paper has been around for 28 years, so you can probably find strong opinions on its credibility if you look: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munhwa_Ilbo


Oddly, none of this is being reported in the Korean news.


I'm with you. Good if true, but this is not a highly trustworthy source.


It will be fascinating to watch the modernization of North Korea if we end up heading in that direction. I'm particularity interested to see if it is possible for a leader/party with a brutal a reputation as that of Kim Jong Un to retain power as the country opens up (although to be fair we are a _long_ way from any real change).


Some forms of modernization has been going on for years now, but mainly in the shadows as it's all rather illegal. But a peace would certainly help speed up this process hopefully, let's see how this will go.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-03/north-korea-activists-...


This doesn't sound like NK is any closer to opening up, just that NK has completed their nuclear program and is looking to reassert their influence on the Korean peninsula.


I think China might already be an example of how that can go, where they've had a pretty strict regime for a long long time but we've seen that evolve over time.

I think North Korea is fascinating because it's been so isolated, and progress is bound to be huge. And the 21st century makes everything so much more visible. And seeing history happen is pretty exciting.

Although yes, the current state of North Korea's government does make meaningful progress difficult to imagine. But it's also not permanent. Either the government will evolve, or Kim Jong Un will die someday...


To be fair we've seen that evolve over time back into a single leader holding nearly all the power


Though still with a higher level of individual security and freedom than during the worst of Mao's rule.


Fair enough


Interestingly, Kim Jong Un can easily make the argument in hindsight that he inherited the brutal system and then set about to change it for the better (and that it would take time). That first they had to secure nuclear weapon delivery capability to ensure their security; once that was accomplished, they could then negotiate peace on a more level playing field, from a position of strength, with the US. If they want to spin it, that's an easy way to go. Kim Jong Un becomes the benevolent dictator that brought a Vietnam-style boom to North Korea (I reference Vietnam, because it wasn't very long ago that their Communist regime was still very closed and brutally repressive, more like a pre Deng Xiaoping China).


"Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers from which they dare not dismount."

Kim Jong Un inherited his position atop the tiger's back. He was brutal, sure, but I do not envy anyone who inherits such a dangerous situation.

I've often thought of North Korea as the longest running hostage situation in history. What usually happens to hostage takers when they finally leave the building?


He could make that argument, but he'd be laughed at all the way to De Hague.

He always had the option of just laying down the weapons, opening the border to the South and letting others make the decision from now on. It's not like South Korea are actually their enemy in want-to-kill-them terms.


I'm super ignorant on the topic, but when i try imagine being in his shoes for a moment...the concept of doing exactly what you're proposing feels like it might result in some kind of uprising or assassination from within the leadership ranks.

Given the state of the country for the last ~70 years, the last 24 months has seen what looks like massive progress. Perhaps he has different goals and is going through a fairly methodical process of getting popular opinion on his side before moving forward on what he really wants?


He always had the option of just laying down the weapons, opening the border to the South

That's a pretty naïve supposition. Being a dictator is not like playing a video game, despite how fun and easy Sid Meier's Civilization makes it seem. In the real world you can be shot by your own soldiers if you alienate the wrong person.


I'm curious as to why the motivation now? The West has been placing sanction on North Korea for years with seemingly no effect.

I wonder what role, if any China played in brokering this deal? This is only a report of what is expected to happen at the summit, so we will see if Kim Jong Un will follow through, since his military presence and proximity to South Korea and Seoul has been his best bartering chip.


It looked like they have been building up to this for years. Swiss educated Kim Jong Un came to power, dealt with his internal issues to gain complete control, developed the nuclear weapons capabilities to be taken seriously internationally and then reaches out to negotiate.


My thoughts exactly. Finding a way out of the inherited war without looking weak to your people is a difficult dance.


North Korea have been trying to engage in talks for years. The US and South Korea have taken the approach that North Korea needs to give concessions - in the form of demilitarisation - before talks begin. Now they don't.

North Korea (quite astutely) pointed out that if they did as they were told, like Libya, they'd end up like Libya. They don't want to end up like Libya.


Arguably citizens of Libya have it better than citizens of North Korea (or Syria for that matter)


Here is a very interesting comment on this topic from a year ago:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14236146


Moon Jae-in ran on the platform of increasing diplomatic ties to North Korea, and the negotiations surrounding the Olympics saw a strengthening bond between the two countries.


Go read some stuff from Tim Shorrock.

https://twitter.com/TimothyS/status/946820801487147009


A few reasons. The liberals are in power in South Korea, and they have a much more friendly North Korea strategy. Couple that with the North Koreans' recent development of ICBMs and a hostile strategy seems less desirable. The US certainly doesn't want a good relationship with North Korea, but without a South Korean government supporting their policy, and with an increased threat from the North, there's not much we can do.


North Korea has become a nuclear power.


Do we think that their ballistic missiles are as capable as they portray in their state run media?

As far as I know, most military strategists doubt the missiles can actually reach US mainland.

As for South Korea, they have always been close enough to suffer catastrophic damages by traditional non-nuclear action, so why are they willing to come to the table now?

Unless they are preemptively trying to avoid retaliation on their own soil because of a US - led strike on North Korea.


In the grand scheme of things, whether they are "as capable" doesn't really matter.

If a nuke goes into Hawaii, does that matter psychologically if it doesn't reach US Mainland?

All they need is a credible threat of force. That's why nukes are a separate category from conventional explosive tipped ballistic missiles or cruise missiles.

A dirty nuclear strike can render a place uninhabitable for the next 100 years. Imagine wiping Hawaii off the US vacation list for a century.


> Imagine wiping Hawaii off the US vacation list for a century.

Yeah, and the last time we suffered an attack at Hawaii, we beat their door down. I'm 49 years old but I would re-enlist to help with that kind of revenge.


Yeah, and the current status quo isn't permanent. It's only a matter of time before their missiles improve enough. Whether it's one year or ten years, it's going to happen. It can't not happen.


It's only a matter of time before their missiles do get good enough. They know it, we know it, everyone knows it. And its not going to do much good to wait until that day comes.

>As for South Korea, they have always been close enough to suffer catastrophic damages by traditional non-nuclear action, so why are they willing to come to the table now?

Just because that's been a risk they've lived with for 65 years doesn't mean they're happy or willing to suffer it. There's been multiple efforts over decades to try and resolve the relationship with the North and South, this isn't the first time or first attempt or anything. It's been a big issue in Korea for a long time.

>Unless they are preemptively trying to avoid retaliation on their own soil because of a US - led strike on North Korea.

Ideally. War is bad. It's bad for people. It's bad for economies. And look at it this way. If there was a problem in the U.S., does the U.S. want to solve their own problems or would they prefer China to step in and take care of it for them? Most countries want to solve their own problems and manage their own affairs if they can. National pride and such.

Yeah, if fighting broke out between North and South Korea, they'll take our help because winning is what matters. But if they can negotiate their own peace and own reconciliation that leave the U.S. on the bench, they'll be perfectly happy to do that.


I'm no international relations expert. Still, I think even a modest chance of a catastrophic attack against US civilians becomes a big factor.


It has been since 2006.


Okay, but they got their ballistic missiles working just in recent months.


Donald J. Trump.

I would imagine this is not a popular opinion here, but he had the entire world convinced he would use nuclear weapons against North Korea. That has to have some effect on the North Korean regime.


I think he did the right thing by offering a meeting with Kim Jon Un. And he was the only one able to do it. If Obama had done this the Republicans would have thrown a total fit.


It's like that old Vulcan proverb "Only Nixon could go to China."


I like the original Klingon version: "Only Picard could go to Qo'noS."


As they have over the Iran deal.


Which he did, and they did.


>If Obama had done this the Republicans would have thrown a total fit.

Let's please not turn this thread into /r/politics


Ideally we should be able to discuss political issues reasonably, precisely because we are not /r/politics.


I think I stated an obvious fact.


That category of statement cannot be a fact; it's your opinion. It might be true, it might even be obviously true, but it's not a "fact".


While I understand the sentiment behind your statement. I would have bet every penny I have that the republicans would have thrown a fit and I'd be retired at 36. It's about as safe a bet as the Sun rises in the east. But only because republicans pitched a fit about anything Obama had a hand in. It was predictability as constant as the Northern star.


Well naturally I agree with you. But words are important.

It's like if I state that The Beatles have, in total, more musical merit than Katy Perry. Well, that seems totally obvious too and one would be hard-pressed to find any sane adult who would disagree. Nonetheless it's not a "fact".

Maybe I'm being a pedant but these little things annoy me. Words have meanings, those meanings are important. Anyway, I made my point too many times over already so I'll leave it :P


https://www.vox.com/2018/3/9/17100880/north-korea-republican...

Conservatives saying exactly what they did (condemn Obama) when he offered essentially the same thing as Trump has (with regard to talking with North Korea sans preconditions).

Fact, not opinion.


What do you think would have happened if Obama had offered talks with North Korea?


That is not my point. My point is that statements that rely on judgement and include phrases like "I think..." or "you think..." have nothing to do with facts.

Consult a dictionary if confusion persists.


How about "based on my observation of politics over the last few years I believe that if Obama had offered talks with North Korea he would have faced strong opposition from Republican politician in Congress.". Better?


Speculation is never fact


Well, I suppose the moral of the story is that if you want to be seen as the only actor able to address a specific issue, the most effective tack is ruthlessly depict the motives of the opposing actors as corrupt and thoroughly tribalize it until you have a faction that will distrust any effort others make regardless of its merits.

Then you're the only one that can make an effort to solve the problem. Neat.

Maybe someone else besides Nixon could totally have done what he did diplomatically?

> If Obama had done this the Republicans would have thrown a total fit.

It's an interesting exercise to consider what specific hypotheses for which the conditional didn't evaluate true.


If USA would use nukes against NK, (which borders China AND Russia) I have the feeling that the next nukes would have gone off to NY, or CA (or somewhere equally painful for the USA).

Horror/WW3 scenarios apart, it's most likely that USA-originated sanctions have absolutely nothing to do with this, as if Russia and China want to support the continuation of NK-regime, there is no way to force them to stop.

I'd say that pressure from Russia and China are pushing for the permanent resolution of this conflict. It's a tiny/annoying thorn in their sides, and sooner or later they will remove it.


I think you need to understand this kind of blustering makes the people of South Korea more afraid of the USA. It's not as if the history of the USA in S Korea is all roses and honeydew.

South Koreans don't want to be in a constant state of war anymore and they don't want to be occupied by US troops. My feeling is that most South Koreans want a merge like West Germans wanted to merge with E Germans. Look at some of the policies and statements made by their new President Moon, whom was partly elected on a policy of reunification.


I disagree.

Is UK occupied by US forces? Germany? Eastern EU nations? Japan?

And let's not kid ourselves on why Moon was elected. He was in large part elected because of strong disgust (justified) people felt against the previous impeached president.

Moon was elected with 40% of the votes.


I was in Germany during the Reagan years and a lot of people were very nervous about him and the aggressive way he talked when he came in. It got better once he developed a good working relationship with Gorbachev.


> I'm curious as to why the motivation now?

North Korea has nuclear weapons.

That is the difference. Some might suggest it's President Trump, but the reality is, he's only made it worse for the US. North Korea can negotiate without the US because of the weapons, and Trump's push against China and reckless and weak foreign policy (see the latest Russia sanctions going up in flames) makes him a non-actor. China will take this opportunity when the US is at it's weakest to help solidify its hold in Asia, and is already working to help the Koreas. With us backing out of the TPP and now signaling our intent to join back in, this puts us at a severe disadvantage in the region.

As for North Korea, they see a way to join the rest of the world with a major ally (China) who will in effect have the most influence in the region.


When did we signal back in to the TPP!?




If becoming a real threat to the USA is the ticket to long-lasting Peace, then African countries are doomed :(

USA has a steady Foreign Affairs strategy, that doesn't change every time the president changes. Some failed countries (e.g. Greece should learn about this continuation of Policy).

Trump is the twitter guy that acts like a teenager on Redbull. I do believe that Sweden, China, USA, Russia, and others, work really hard behind the scenes to make things happen. Games will of course be played (each country to serve its own agenda) but I don't believe there is any country on this planet that wants to press the Red Button (or Τurn the Κey or whatever)


North Korea proposed a peace treaty as far back as 2016, but the Obama administration rejected it for not addressing denuclearization. Now that Trump has been putting real military pressure on them, I think they're more willing to give up their nuclear arsenal.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-nuclear/u-s-re...


North Korea will never abandon nuclear power whatever they say publicly, it's their only asset to negotiate treaties and their best asset against the US military. They will just use this fake "denuclearization" to negociate for the removal of the US military in South Korea.


Indeed, for a small country, nuclear weapons (and the ability to deliver them abroad) appear to presently be the only way to ensure your country doesn't get mowed over by one of the larger powers.

This is the downside to Mutually Assured Destruction: Everyone not currently a part of it wants nukes so they can be a part of it.


There's nothing fundamentally new about the west's approach to NK. They are coming to the table because finally China started properly turning the screws on them last year with sanctions on steel, coal, seafood and even clothing. NK had enjoyed a bit of an economic summer for the last 5 years, but the Chinese clamp down is biting hard, hence Kim's recent trip to Beijing.


Heck, I would hate to be the person to have to clean up the 1 million+ landmines on the border [0].

[0] https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3362127/north-korea-landmines-...


There are plenty of places in France that are still off-limits to human habitation due to unexploded ordinance and chemical contamination from ww1 (100 years ago).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_Rouge

My guess is they would make an effort in the DMZ, but it will not be "normal" usable land for a very very long time. Maybe they will clear some symbolic parks & plenty of transport corridors


I can think of a few companies that will be glad to take on this contract (and it's most likely the same companies that made these mines).

But, this (if it plays out) is something good for Humanity.


I just hope it won't end up like in Cambodia, which has had something like O(10^5) deaths/amputees over the years. Of course, this would be more of a problem for North Korea, which presumably has not properly informed its citizens of the danger. It will probably take many years because of how isolated North Korea is likely to remain.


The good thing about Korea is that those mines are largely concentrated in a narrow strip of land. You can clear out some roads, keep the existing fences around the rest, and mostly avoid the Cambodia situation.


In case any passers by don't know about an extra factor that makes Cambodia even worse: lots of the country floods annually. This means that you can clear an area of landmines, but then when the floods come it can wash in landmines from other areas into the areas you thought were clear. It's very sad :-(


Just turn the border into a nature preserve like it is already. Add some bridges and done.


Presumably this would be purely symbolic.

It is ironic that North Korea and South Korea have been officially at war since 1950, while there are have been thousands of military conflicts in the world since then without a war being officially declared. Let's hope the end of the official war between the Koreas isn't a prelude to actual military conflict...


This is bizarre if true and is followed up by NK removing all those artillery pointed at Seoul. It puts them in a very precarious state. The only remaining bulwark against US invasion would be upsetting China.

The other obvious one is the nuclear threat. But the nuclear threat to the US mainland has to be negligible at this stage, and is, if anything, an incentive to invade asap before their nuclear threat becomes reliable. I think without the decimation of Seoul on the table, many generals will be licking their lips at this.


I highly recommend reading Nothing To Envy by Barbara Dendrick, which is about six people who escaped from North Korea.

It was a very interesting, though sad, book, as was the AMA she did on Reddit a few years ago.

It would be great to see those borders open up (legally) and let and modern amenities flow into that country.


It's Barbara Demick (a search for Barbara Dendrick does not bring up the correct alternative, at least for me).


Have they been set to announce this before?

People were reluctant to get excited over recent peace talks, because they had led nowhere before. Is there anything new about this development?


This is a good movement,and lets hope that sanctions on the people enforced by authoritarian psychopathic Western regimes will be lifted up. The only known way (historically) to liberalization is through making people richer through trade,not enforcing them to be alone with poverty and populists.


North Korea is directly part of the topic at hand, and yet you single out Western regimes as being authoritarian and psychopathic? That's quite a moral inversion.


If this news comes to fruition, then this is a major win for Donald Trump’s administration. It’s conceivable that he will win the Nobel Peace Prize.


If the peace is signed he merits it more than the former US president that got it for other things than his actions. But I don't think this prize is given on merit only, so it's unlikely to happen in my opinion.


Like him or not. This is a very massive win for the Trump administration. Even if he played 0 role, most people think he did.


I think this is probably all a ruse, a game to King Jong Un. Trump gives us a first hand look at how dictator-wannabes think and act - it's always with ambiguity, never certainty, to keep people guessing, confused and divided. This is like Trump announcing sanctions on Russia while simultaneously refusing to enforce them.

Watch King Jong Un's actions, not his words.


"You're Welcome" - Dennis Rodman




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