Peace is in the air, but is it really?


Today, I walked past Seoul’s city hall and encountered this gigantic poster covering a large section of the building. The text on the poster reads: “Peace made by the South and North, the City of Seoul is with you/will also join”. It’s a clear sign of support for South Korean president Moon Jae-in’s North Korea policy, and the poster appeared a week after US president Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

unification policy
Moon Jae-in’s North Korea policy. (Source: Ministry of Unification)

Not everyone supports Moon’s friendly North Korea policy, however. The main opposition Liberty Korea Party, for example, regards Moon’s policy as naive and a thread to national safety. But in Seoul’s city council, Moon’s Democratic Party has the majority, making it possible to spread Moon’s message in this prominent way.

Every South Korean I speak to seems to have a different view on the current rapid developments regarding North Korea. Skepticism, excitement,  complete indifference, modest hope, confusion, among the public all of these responses seem equally represented. When watching the Dutch and American news however, the opinions on the United States-North Korea Joint Statement seem merely 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 don’t think any expert can make a prediction on how the future will turn out. Only some months ago, Trump threatened North Korea with a possible preemptive attack. For now, the promise of peace seems hollow, as statements of both the north and south barely contain any details on how this peace should be achieved. But I must admit, it feels special to be South Korea at this point in history. The bright blue propaganda banner at City Hall is doing its job.

Published by Ifang Bremer

Freelance journalist and researcher with a special interest in East Asian international relations and current affairs. Alumnus of Korean Studies at Leiden University.

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