The Korean Peninsula is the site of one of world’s longest-running armed conflicts. While the war there ended in an armistice, both the North and the South have been preparing to renew hostilities at any moment for 58 years now.
The animosity, which began as part of the Cold War, survived the collapse of the Soviet Union, and is not expected to end anytime soon. At the moment, relations between Seoul and Pyongyang are at a low point, with the current conservative government in the South taking a firm stance towards their northern neighbor.
The latest issues to part the two parties are the sinking of the corvette Cheonan in March 2010 and the shelling of the Yeonpyeong Island by the North.
There is cautious hope that at least some of the tension may be diffused soon after nuclear envoys from North and South Korea sat together for the first time in over two years on the sidelines of a security summit in Indonesia last week. However, no immediate breakthrough is expected from it.
Experts say an end to the conflict between the two Koreas is long overdue.
“Today is the 58th anniversary since of the armistice agreement. It’s interesting that South Korea was not a signatory of the agreement – those were North Korea, China and the United States. South Korea at the time simply refused to sign it. North Koreans have been suggesting a peace treaty to be signed – with the United States first of all – since 1975. It’s probably overdue that all parties sit down and sort out their differences,” historian Leonid Petrov, professor at the University of Sydney told RT.
“The Republic of Korea is more than anyone interested in signing a peace treaty, because it’s certain to assure investors that a new war is not going to break out. I believe the Korean War must end after all and, in order to achieve this, the Cold War structures in the region in general have to be dismantled,” he added.
Meanwhile, South Korea and the US are planning joint military drills in disputed seas next month, which North Korea always finds provocative. Hyun Lee from the Campaign to End the Korean War believes the US use military exercises in the region to disguise their real goal, which is to stop China’s expansion.
“The US military needs justification to maintain its troops in the region, so it can pursue its real interest, which is to contain China’s expansion of power, and also to continue selling its weapon systems – and demonizing North Korea as an axis of evil country conveniently provides that kind of justification,” she said.