Why Panmunjeom, not in Pyongyang or Seoul?

By Ock Hyun-ju
  • Published : Mar 6, 2018 - 21:51
  • Updated : Mar 6, 2018 - 22:16
The key achievement of President Moon Jae-in’s envoys to North Korea is that the two Koreas laid the groundwork for easing of tensions on the Korean Peninsula and opened a possibility for talks between the reclusive regime and the US to tackle the nuclear deadlock, experts said Tuesday.

South Korea and North Korea have agreed to hold an inter-Korean summit at the Peace House in Panmunjeom at the end of April, Moon’s top security adviser said Tuesday, following a two-day trip to Pyongyang as Moon’s special envoy. 

The decision to hold the inter-Korean summit at the Korean side of Panmunjeom shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s “practical” approach, according to Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the Sejong Institute.

The Peace House in Panmunjeom (Yonhap)

“It is worth noting that two Koreas deciding to hold an inter-Korean summit at Panmunjeom -- a symbol of confrontation -- in the South Korea’s side shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s bold personality and decisiveness,” he said.

He also hailed the outcome for paving the way for South Korea to manage the situation on the Korean Peninsula in a “stable” manner, preventing an escalation of tensions and begin to restore trust with North Korea.

Another expert said that what the two Koreas agreed showed their determination to take matters into their own hands in tackling the nuclear crisis on the peninsula.

“The two Koreas agreeing to hold a third inter-Korean summit shows that they are determined to take a lead in resolving the nuclear standoff on the Korean Peninsula,” Koh Yu-hwan, who teaches North Korean studies at Dongguk University.

He also said that the possibility of talks between North Korea and the US was raised as Pyongyang met the US preconditions for talks to some extent by agreeing to put denuclearization on the negotiating table.

North Korea has long said that its nuclear weapons program is not up for negotiation, saying it is for its own survival against US’ aggression. The US has maintained that it can only start a dialogue with North Korea when it agrees to discuss denuclearization.

“But at the same time North Korea left room for interpretation by saying that it would give up its nuclear weapons programs once the regime’s survival is guaranteed,” he said. “It is now up to the US (whether talks happen).”

By Ock Hyun-ju (