"Jilted bride": As South Korea marks peace summit, North stays aloof

Young journalists club

News ID: 38526
Publish Date: 17:21 - 27 April 2019
TEHRAN, Apr 27 - Along forest trails below a bare mountain peak that until last year was a vantage point for a North Korean guard post, a group of around 20 ordinary South Koreans took a rare hike on Saturday near the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas.

TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -The hikers were chosen by lottery to explore a “peace trail” near the heavily fortified frontier, launched to mark the first anniversary of a landmark summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Hours later at the Joint Security Area (JSA) in the border village of Panmunjom, where Moon and Kim met, a series of music performances and other events were held to highlight cross-border rapprochement fostered since the summit.

But conspicuously absent from the peace-themed celebrations was North Korea, which failed to send any official or message in response to the South’s invite.

North Korea has effectively pulled back from engagement since a second meeting in Hanoi in February between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump fell apart without any agreement on dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

In the South, Moon’s administration is forging ahead with its peace drive without it.

The trail hiked on Saturday, dubbed the DMZ Pathway to Peace although it does not enter any part of the zone, was introduced after the North refused to implement an agreed plan to provide tourists from both sides with greater access to the JSA.

Public access to the area was strictly limited as the two Koreas remain technically a war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

“I wish I could freely go down this road into the North,” said Song Hae-sook, a 71-year-old hiker. “It’s too bad that they’re not keeping their promise, which is what always worries us.”



The failed Hanoi summit was a blow for Moon, who has offered to mediate between Kim and Trump for a deal that he hoped would help ease U.S. sanctions in return for the North taking steps toward denuclearisation, leading to a restart of inter-Korean economic cooperation.

Moon’s efforts to meet Kim again and send an envoy to Pyongyang to discuss a possible compromise after the breakdown have made little headway.

Planned weekly talks at an inter-Korean liaison office in the North’s border city of Kaesong have not taken place since the Hanoi summit, and the North briefly pulled out of it without giving a reason.

“It may look like a bride walking down the aisle when there’s no groom waiting from the other side to greet her,” a South Korean official said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.


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