Issue Brief on “A Thaw in North Korea and South Korea Relations”

The year 2017 was a busy one for North Korea. It conducted a nuclear test and several ballistic missile tests which it claimed could reach the United States mainland. It was a tense year where there were numerous rounds of threatening rhetoric and counter rhetoric between the US and North Korea. The joint military exercises conducted twice a year in spring and winter by the US and South Korea further fuelled tensions on the Korean Peninsula and there was talk of military action by the two sides as well.[1] However, the year 2018 has started with an offer from North Korea of what seems like an olive branch to South Korea when Kim Jong Un offered talks over sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korean in February 2018.

In high-level talks held between the two Koreas on January 9 at the border village of Panmunjom, also known as “truce village,” North Korea agreed to send its athletes to the Winter Olympic, as well as a cheering squad and a performance-art troupe. This will be the first time in eight years that North Korea has participated in the Winter Games.   South Korea also suggested that the two Korean teams march together during the opening ceremony of the Olympics. The South also proposed that the two countries revive their program of temporarily reuniting elderly people who have not seen their cross-border relatives since the Korean War unofficially ended in 1953.[2]

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