The debates of the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, September 21 were marked by the speech of Joe Biden, but also by that of the South Korean president. In this year celebrating the 30th anniversary of the joining of the United Nations of the two Koreas, Moon Jae-in has once again proposed to end the war on the peninsula. If, in fact, since 1953 the fighting has ceased, the two countries are still officially at war. This attempted declaration of peace is a long-standing demand of the South Korean president, for whom time is running out.
Moon Jae-in has once again called on the two Koreas, the United States and China, to come together to declare the end of the Korean War. An announcement that comes a week after seeing an escalation of armaments on the peninsula . The two Koreas carried out ballistic missile tests on the same day.
This repeated demand for an official end to a war that has actually ended since 1953 is often the subject of criticism. Because unlike a peace treaty, this simple declaration does not imply any constraint for North Korea, or any agreement between the two Koreas.
Biden’s North Korean policy deemed too vague
The South Korean president, whose term will end in early March 2022, called on the international community to engage in dialogue with the North. Time is running out for the man who believed he was the president of historic advances with Pyongyang after the inter-Korean agreements and the one signed between the United States and North Korea in Singapore in 2018. But the time seems over for the absence of dialogue.
Presidential party leader Song Young-gil has called Joe Biden’s North Korean policy uncertain and far too vague. Since the arrival of the new Democratic president to the White House, no significant progress has been reported in a case stalled since the failure of the Hanoi summit in February 2019.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in reiterated a proposal to formally end the Korean War in a speech at the U.N. on Tuesday, calling for the support of the U.S. and China.
“Today, I once again urge the international community to mobilize its strengths for the end-of-war declaration on the Korean Peninsula and propose that three parties of the two Koreas and the U.S., or four parties of the two Koreas, the U.S. and China, come together and declare that the war on the Korean Peninsula is over,” Moon said in his address to the 76th session of the U.N. General Assembly.
“When the parties involved in the Korean War stand together and proclaim an end to the war, I believe we can make irreversible progress in denuclearization and usher in an era of complete peace.”
The two Koreas technically remain in a state of war, as the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
Moon has pushed for a formal declaration to end the Korean War throughout his presidency, including in his speech at the U.N. last year. Tuesday’s speech marked Moon’s last to the U.N. as president, with his term set to end early next year.
U.S. President Joe Biden also touched on “the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” in an address to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. He stressed “concrete progress toward an available plan with tangible commitments” that would “increase stability on the peninsula and in the region, as well as improve the lives of the people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”
Noting that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the two Koreas joining the U.N., Moon told the General Assembly that the joint accession and acknowledgment of two separate nations was “never meant to perpetuate the division.”
He added that a path to reconciliation and unification can be reached through inter-Korean and international cooperation.
“I expect that the international community, together with Korea, remains always ready and willing to reach out to North Korea in a cooperative spirit,” Moon said.
Moon also called once again for the reunion of families separated by the Korean War, stressing that these separated families are “already advanced in age.” Pyongyang has been unresponsive to Seoul’s repeated efforts to organize family reunions, including by videoconference, since the last such meeting in Aug. 2018.
Moon’s speech in support of a peace process comes amid increased inter-Korean tensions following the North and South’s respective missile tests last week, which highlighted the continuing arms race on the Korean Peninsula.
While North Korea has given a cold shoulder to international outreach to engagement since the failed Hanoi summit between then-U.S. President Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un, Seoul and Washington have continued to seek to resume denuclearization dialogue with Pyongyang, while also offering to provide humanitarian assistance.