Hope for a peaceful Korean Peninsula follows Pyongyang summit

Mgr You speaks about today's agreements between Kim and Moon, including the decision to decommission missile test site. The goal is to eliminate all the risks of war. Separated families will be able to communicate via video chats and letters. The two Koreas are set to present a joint bid for the 2032 Olympic Games.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrived in Pyongyang yesterday, welcomed by a smiling Kim Jong-un. Today, the two Korean leaders signed the Pyongyang Declaration, agreeing on a number of peace initiatives. For Mgr Lazarus You Heung-sik, bishop of Daejon, "small but concrete steps” will help the two Koreas face the great problems that divide them; in so doing, they are kindling "hope for a Korean peninsula at peace".

With respect to denuclearisation, North Korea pledged to shut down the DongChang missile testing site, allowing foreign nuclear experts to monitor its decommissioning. In addition, in the event of "corresponding measures" by the United States, Pyongyang said it would shut down the Yongbyon nuclear power plant.

According to the Declaration, “The two Koreas agreed to end hostility at fortified regions, including the Demilitarized Zone, and continue such momentum by seeking to remove all real risks of war.”

Their respective defence ministers, South Korean Song Young-moo and North Korean No Kwang-chol, discussed ways to ease military tensions. The two signed a separate agreement to set up a permanent joint military committee to engage in close communication and consultation.

In addition, the two sides plan to turn the demilitarised zone along the intra-Korean border into a zone of peace. For start, they will each pull out 11 guard posts by the end of the year.

The Pyongyang summit also sets the stage for more meetings between the two leaders. Kim Jong-un announced that he will travel to Seoul before the end of the year.

Other important initiatives of reconciliation include "exchanges and cooperation" over the Yellow Sea, railway infrastructures, the Kaesong industrial complex, environmental protection, humanitarian cooperation for separated families (through correspondence and video chats). The Mount Kumgang reunion site will be restored as a permanent facility.

Finally, the two leaders agreed to a joint bid for the 2032 Olympic Games. A delegation of North Korean artists will perform in Seoul in October.

For Mgr Lazarus You, bishop of Daejon, this is a source of “immense joy. We feel that we are coming close to realising peace on the Korean peninsula. I was moved from what I saw on TV.

“Before this meeting, I prayed a lot and asked others to pray. . . A lot of trust has been created, a deep communion between them. This is very important. Kim Jong-un also reiterated his commitment to denuclearisation, and I hope that America will respond and take certain steps.”

"It is a great thing that Kim wants to come to Seoul. Until now no North Korean leader has come to our capital since the armistice ended the 1950-1953 Korean War. The 27 April summit was held on the South Korean side of Panmunjom. The village is a special place, but he will come to the capital. This is highly significant."

"I see many concrete steps ahead. It is important. There are so many problems – some big ones – but going forward one step at a time will make tackling big, more difficult things, possible. Thus, we can believe in a Korean Peninsula at peace. We need to negotiate with patience and remember that we are one people, one race, one language.

“I am happy because both leaders, Moon and Kim, have publicly suggested that we will overcome all kinds of difficulties that we will inevitably encounter on the road to reconciliation. One can see serious and determined resolve to realise peace and achieve prosperity on the Korean peninsula on the part of both leaders."

"People in Pyongyang gave a warm welcome to our president. He greeted the people with a deep bow - not 15, not 20 but 90 degrees. In North Korea, they bow so deeply only for their leader. Moon greeted the people, it was very nice. "

Tomorrow, Moon and Kim are scheduled to visit Mount Baekdu. For North Koreans, the mountain has a mythological value because it is said to be the birthplace of Kim Jong-un's father, Kim Jong-il. Afterwards, Moon will leave for Seoul. Next week, he will meet with US President Donald Trump. For his part, the US president described the result of the intra-Korean summit as “very exciting”.