On January 2, 2018, North and South Korea started off the new year with military peace talks and other high-level discussions. Talks between the two countries are especially important because the Korean peninsula is still technically at war. In a statement released by South Korea’s Unification Ministry, they hope to resolve issues through discussion and negotiation for the good of the peninsula. The discussions are taking place at Panmunjom, a village in the Joint Security Area along the heavily fortified border that divides the Korean Peninsula.
The talks are not just military themed. A main topic of discussion has been the Winter Olympics, which will be held in Seoul, South Korea starting February 9th. North Korea intended to send a high level delegation as a show of good faith that their goal is the resolvement of the issues at hand. Both sides have expressed interest in certain issues such as reuniting families separated by the border and resuming in-depth military negotiations.
The news of the two countries’ discussions has been met with a hopeful response from the world as the threat of nuclear warfare has recently resurfaced. Especially after the tensions created from the banter between the North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Un and President Trump last year, this friendly dialogue is what many are hoping will de-escalate any tension and lead to resolutions for issues that have been prevalent since the split of the peninsula. North Korea’s interest in being involved with the winter Olympics will hopefully allow for further diplomatic conversation to occur in the future, allowing for more serious matters to be brought up such as denuclearization and other related military tensions.
When it comes to international interactions, especially with countries with nuclear weapons, respect and professionality are of the utmost importance. The trash talk and insults have no place in these interactions, especially when weapons of mass destruction are involved. The last thing anyone needs is a leader getting their feelings hurt and lashing out in retaliation, because the backlash has the potential to harm countless people!
Some might say that threats are the only way to deal with a country as dangerous as North Korea, that we have to remain on our toes and ready to attack in case they do anything. I’m not defending all the terrible things that have been discovered about the regime. Instead I offer these talks between North and South Korea as proof that diplomacy is an effective way to resolve issues without creating any significant risk to the countries involved and their citizens.
The international community hopes that these peaceful talks continue and that negotiations can be made for the betterment of not only the Korean people, but for people all around the world. Peaceful negotiation should always be the go-to when it comes to sensitive issues such as the ones surrounding nuclear weapons. Even though we are different from North Korea, exchanging threats can only escalate the situation. With a President as publicly opinionated as ours, peaceful and respectful discussions should take precedence before someone’s finger slips in frustration and begins the nuclear winter that we all made fun of on the internet.
Wesley Rodriguez-Diep is a sophomore studying international relations.