With the peace treaty between North and South Korea and the success of the summit between the Trump Administration and Kim Jong Un a few weeks ago, the march toward peace between the three great nations seems to be underway. However, the Trump Administration heavily focuses on the possibility of denuclearization of North Korea instead of the economic possibilities that they can bring to the table, UConn historian Alexis Dudden said.
“What became clear as of result of last week[’s] summit in Pyongyang is that the ball is now in Washington’s court to decide whether we are going to move forward with what North Korea has ask[ed] for, the peace treaty to end the Korean war, which the South Korean president is really pushing not only for ideological hopeful reasons but also believes it is the sensible way for his country’s economy forwards,” Dudden said.
Much of the Trump administration's focus is convincing North Korea to put away their nuclear weapons and missile systems, according to Dudden. South Korea, who plays a significant part in the peace process, does not believe denuclearization seems likely.
“I think it’s a great we are moving forward with peace but at the same time North Korea has not given up any of its weapons, the United States has stated goals remains denuclearize, denuclearize, denuclearize,” Dudden said. “Whereas in the middle of this, South Koreans just think, ‘look this is unrealistic this a leader who is the third generation owner of his country, he is not just going to give up his ways. He has regime survival.’”
South Korea’s economy has been unstable for a long time. South Koreans, especially the younger generation, hope the peace treaty will bring the possibility of new job openings in North Korea.
“In 1997, there was a financial crisis in Asia which prefigured the 2008 recession [in the United States] but this really meant that kids that are 21 today, their parents sacrificed and sacrificed almost enormous amounts of savings, jewelry…” Dudden said. “These kids who have undergone amazing stresses in rigorous South Korean education and competition, intensive times in cram schools, testing, testing, testing simply to get into a college and now are faced with very few hopes of getting a really good job. And so for them, unification is not the goal rather a stable area in hopes of gaining employment and building a future."
Bianca Castelan is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.