Korean Peninsula Map - Photo via wikipedia.org

If we draw a comparison between Soth Korea (Republic of Korea-ROK) and North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of  Korea- DPRK) we can clearly observe the difference between the lifestyles of these two nations of the Korean Peninsula. South Korea embraced a democratic structure and worked with a capitalist form of economy. While North Korea went for a dictatorship and following the guidelines of communism.

The problem is about 70 years old. South Korea started boosting its economy in the 1960s. South Korea held its first presidential elections in 1987. By these elections, South Korea mentioned that it will follow a democratic set up. However, North Korea went for isolating its people from the rest of the world. South Korea is a place for technological advancements. While North Korea is culminating intense censorship.

Image by Dong Chan KIM from Pixabay

For many years South Korean considered North Korea as a threat. They were of the opinion that North Korea can launch military aggression anytime. However, now things have started changing. Now South Korean experts believe that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is a different person. They think that the current leadership of both sides wants to resolve the issues peacefully.

Many experts believe that Kim Jong Un of DPRK is interested in economic reforms and diplomatic engagements with the world. For this, he visited Switzerland for a short span of time. The current detente between the USA and North Korea is also evidence of the latter’s positive attitude. However, some experts still raised concerns in North Korea. They think that North’s massive military and nuclear arsenal are still a threat to south and that hawks in his administration can still go to war.

It seems that North Korea wants to be part of the civilized world, but doesn’t want a compromise on its nuclear capabilities. South Korean President Mr. Moon is also enthusiastic in resuming dialogues with his northern counterpart. However, He faces strict opposition from right-wing politicians of South Korea. Moreover, economic troubles have also contributed to defaming the Moon’s government.

Currently, the inter Korean peace process is dependent upon next year’s elections of South Korea. Relations with North Korea will be a detrimental factor in those elections. Negotiations on calming the Korean cold war is an achievement of Moon’s government. We can hope that the new government will also take up the peace process. Because most of the Korean population wants peace in the region.

Trump-Kim handshake – Photo via wikimedia.org

Many Korean also think that the USA can play the role of mediator in this situation. Hanoi summit could not bring the desired outcomes. It was expected that the Hanoi summit will reduce tensions in Korea peninsula but could not happen. After the unanswered questions regarding the Hanoi summit, the debate went further complicated. South Korean experts seem worried about zero outcomes of this summit.

In this   President Trump’s efforts are highly appreciable. His efforts ended a deadlock in the Korean peninsula. However, the right-wing politicians seem unhappy with US president’s efforts for peace in the region. Hawks on both sides do not see Trump as mediator. The fundamentalists in South Korea believe that President Trump’s efforts are legitimizing the dictatorial regime of Kim Jong Un.

The US-South Korea alliance is of great importance in this situation. Many South Korean give respect to the US role in the region. Experts believe that support of the USA has given confidence to South Korea to deal with North Korea. The US support also helped South Korea to manage its defense budget. The US support provides South Korea a military as well as a diplomatic edge over North Korea.

However, right-wing politicians believe that South Korea had to heavy price for the collapse of Hanoi summit. They believe that the USA will only work for American interests instead of Korean interests. Interestingly, many military experts in South Korea claim that a peaceful settlement of the Korean peninsula will reduce the US’ influence in the region. And South Korea will reduce its military relationship with America.

Few South Koreans also see Trump administration as uncertain. They believe that If Trump signs a peace deal with North Korea then US-South Korea alliance will fade away. These experts support the US alliance with South Korea. However, they show reservations on uncertainty exists in Trump administration. They think that US support will move away if required at the time. Trump administration is working to address South Korean reservations.

Relationship with other countries is also important. Currently, relations with Japan are also getting weak. President Moon faces strict criticism over this issue. Russia is also an important factor. Kim-Putin meeting is a highly discussed topic in South Korea. However, the Moon’s government claim that this meeting will not cast any serious impact in the region. Comments on China’s role are divided.

Most of the trade to North Korea comes from China. It is also opined that North Korea is trying to ease tensions with the USA to reduce its dependence on China. South’s relations with China are deteriorating after the THAAD conflict. China criticized both the USA and South Korea over this issue. China’s harsh stance on THAAD pushed South Korea more towards the United States of America.

THAAD missile system – Photo via army.mil

Despite the emerging roles of Russia and China, the USA still has a pivotal role to play in the Korean peninsula. Currently, the Trump administration is trying to present a peaceful agenda to stabilize the region. Obviously, the peace settlement will provoke some hawks in the region, but only a peace deal will resolve the problems of the residents of the Korean peninsula. However, the peaceful settlement should also include regional partners like Japan, Russia, and China.