Last year, we saw heightened tensions in the Korean peninsula. The world watched the United States and North Korea stumble toward what could be a devastating war.
- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un tested several long range missiles with nuclear capabilities. USA, Japan and other countries were upset with North Korea’s nuclear program and activity.
- The United Nations imposed sanctions on North Korea, limiting exports and imports to put pressure on this already impoverished country.
- The irate United States not only campaigned to enforce sanctions but also held joint military drills with South Korea to show their might and intimidate their enemy.
- Lastly, tensions between historic enemies North Korea and South Korea continued to make matters worse.
Wondering what’s in store in the the new year? Well in his new year speech, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un brought about similar threats again saying he had a “nuclear button” ready but also proposed open dialogue with South Korea. He said they were ready to discuss easing military tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula and sending his country’s athletes to the Winter Olympics which are being held in South Korea next month.
In another small sign of progress, on January 3rd 2018 a hotline between the the two governments was reopened for the first time in nearly two years.
What is this dedicated hot-line?
It is a phone line that lower-level military officials at the border use to talk with each other in case of escalating tensions. A chat between the North and South can help assure there are no misunderstanding between the two sides that could lead to war.
North Korea shut down this historic hotline in 2016 when South Korea closed of a border factory town jointly operated by the two Koreas.
Could this possibly be a warming of ties between the two long standing enemies?
For starters, South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in quickly seized the opportunity to open dialogue with North Korea.
North Korea and South Korea will hold high-level diplomatic talks next week — the first time the two countries will officially speak to each other in more than two years.
The talks will take place at the so-called peace village in the Demilitarized Zone — the inter-Korean border — on January 9, 2018. The priority of the meeting will be to focus on finding a way for North Korean athletes to attend the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea in February.