“The two leaders solemnly declared before the 80 million Korean people and the whole world that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and thus a new era of peace has begun.”
So it says at the outset of the so-called Panmunjom Declaration announced on April 27 by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. I am very uncomfortable with the declaration, especially because of the above-cited sentence.
The international community, including South Korea, has imposed severe sanctions on the North, concluding that rogue nations with nuclear missiles, such as North Korea, could disrupt world peace as well as transfer those missiles to terrorists. The United States has supplemented the pressure with repeated military drills near the Korean Peninsula, threatening to take military action unless Pyongyang dismantles its nuclear missiles.
The avoidance of war depends on Kim Jong-un’s complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of nuclear missiles. Nevertheless, without any such promises, the declaration unilaterally asserts “there will be no more war.”
No Mention of Missile Dismantlement
A preposterous point of the declaration is that the document makes no mention of the key element—nuclear missile dismantlement—while envisioning a rosy future of warm relations between North and South Korea.
The Japanese media also misled the public in its reporting of the declaration language: “South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.” They left the false impression that it meant Kim Jong-un had promised to dismantle his nuclear missiles.
For North Korea, however, the denuclearization statement means the goal articulated in 1991 by Kim Jong-un’s grandfather Kim Il-sung, the late North Korean leader. Kim Il-sung defined denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as including the withdrawal of American troops from the peninsula and the dissolution of the United States-South Korea alliance. This is the reason the young Kim told Chinese President Xi Jinping recently that the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula represented Kim Il-sung’s teaching.
After mentioning a “nuclear-free Korean Peninsula,” the declaration goes on to say, “South and North Korea shared the view that the measures being initiated by North Korea are very meaningful and crucial for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
In this case, “The measures being initiated by North Korea” refers to a decision at a general meeting of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party on April 20 to suspend nuclear and missile tests and dismantle a particular nuclear test site. However, at the time, Pyongyang emphasized that the reason for the decision was the completion of a “state nuclear force.”
On April 22, Pyongyang followed up the Central Committee action by ordering media organizations and writers to spread the propaganda that North Korea had become an imposing nuclear power, thanks to the efforts of Kim Jong-un. In other words, the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” means that North Korea, as a nuclear country, and the United States, would implement nuclear disarmament on an equal footing.
Failure to Take Up Human Rights
President Moon was able to hold very amicable talks with Kim Jong-un because the president refrained from taking up the human rights issues that Pyongyang is loath to discuss. While touching on North Korea’s abduction of Japanese citizens at the request of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Moon made no mention of abducted South Koreans or the detention of South Korean prisoners of war.
He failed to discuss the oppression of defectors as well as political prisons that a United Nations commission criticized for human rights abuses amounting to oppression comparable to those committed by Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot. Furthermore, President Moon unilaterally declared a ban on balloon leaflets that North Korean defectors, intent on conveying truthful information to their compatriots in North Korea, had been paying for out of their own pockets.
In summary, the Panmunjom Declaration represents deception and betrayal.