After president Trump and Chairman Kim signed the Joint Statement earlier this week, there is tension in the air. Today, I walked past Seoul’s city hall and encountered this gigantic poster covering almost the full side of the building. The text on the poster reads: “Peace between the South and the North, Seoul is also with you.” In my view, a clear piece of propaganda representing South Korean president Moon Jae-in’s North Korea policy. South Korean president Moon Jae-in has never made a secret out of wanting to achieve unification of the two Korea’s: he wants to leave a legacy, and this poster clearly shows his hopeful wish for peace between North and South Korea.
Beside of the strategic location, right in the historic heart of Seoul, it is not surprising that this poster hangs on the city hall. In Seoul’s city council, Moon’s Democratic Party has the majority, making it possible to spread Moon’s message in this prominent way. This is important to address, because other than this poster might suggest, not everyone supports Moon’s friendly North Korea policy.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party for example, regards Moon’s policy as naive and a thread to national safety, and they are not alone in that. In fact, every South Korean I speak to seems to have a different view on the current rapid developments regarding North Korea. Skepticism, ecstatic joy, complete indifference, modest hope, confusion, all reactions are equally represented. When watching the Dutch and American news however, the opinions on the United States-North Korea Joint Statement are simply centered around two camps: the skeptics, who regard the Joint Statement as a hollow propaganda show, and the optimists, who see the recent developments as the beginning of a bright future.
Personally, I do not think any expert can make a prediction on how the future will turn out. Some months ago, Trump threatened North Korea with a possible preemptive attack. Now, we see two leaders shaking hands and promising peace. For now, the promise seems hollow, as the statement did not contain any details. Moreover, it does not mention a word about biggest tragedy of our time: the suffering of the North Korean people. However, I must admit that I cannot help but feel that it is special to be in South Korea at this point in history.