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Caution over peace gestures in Korea

The grim reality that life on Earth could be changed dramatically by the push of a button is a concern for all who desire peace in the free world. Perhaps this is why much of the world would welcome any political gesture that indicates a willingness to reduce such a lethal threat.

It is no secret that harsh and bitter exchanges between the most powerful nuclear force on Earth, America, and North Korea in recent times has done little to calm fears of potential nuclear calamity.

It is also no secret that the dictatorial regime of North Korea, with a history of brutal rule that caused millions to suffer and die, will not simply vanish with handshakes with South Korea.

However, any move to suggest a willingness to change in a war-footing state between the Koreas, which existed since military hostilities ended July 27 1953, would be seen as a good sign — although there is still too much beneath carpet to hold a celebration dance.

South Korea, with assistance from America and other nations, managed to repel an attempt by the North to take full possession of the country. It was a nasty conflict that left a deeply divided peninsular, where families were torn apart and many lives were lost before the last shot was fired. Over the years, both sides remained braced for another confrontation as they lived in daily tension, with deadly weapons aimed at each other.

With North Korea now in possession of nuclear weapons, and run by a leader who boasted of the ability to attack the United States, global concerns mounted. Of course, America's new president saying he had a bigger button to push if North Korea became a threat added to international tensions. No right-thinking person wanted a military confrontation involving nuclear weapons, especially after use of such weapons in Japan claimed so many lives in ending the Second World War.

As we fast-forward to that recent moment in Korea, when Kim Jong Un, and the President of South Korea, Moon Jae In, embraced with smiles on meeting for the first time in more than a decade, there was the appearance that a page of history would be turned.

At least that is what much of the free world would be hoping for. The colourful display of military and ceremonial dress for the ceremony before the two leaders held talks shed a glimmer of light that improved relations is possible. For a moment, it looked as though the long journey to peace in Korea had begun.

With a tightening of diplomacy between North Korea and South Korea, observers will be watching closely the tone of an upcoming meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. With the issue of denuclearisation and various sanctions very much on the agenda, talks could become very sensitive, especially with improved relations between on the Korean Peninsula.

Some observers are concerned that Trump's continuing legal issues over numerous allegations could be serious enough to lead to impeachment proceedings, and that he may not be in the best position when he meets Kim. That is another issue.

What the world will be watching very closely is that any talks between the two leaders should also involve what will be done to improve life for millions of North Koreans still suffering in the shadows of a nation that is spending billions on weapons while its citizens are deprived of freedom and are starving in sections of the country.

Dictatorial regimes seldom abandon power willingly. That in itself is a problem, not only for the United States, but also other nations within range of North Korea's nuclear arsenal.

A regime where religious worshipping is treated as an act of treason, and subjected to harsh and cruel treatment, is certainly not in keeping with the principles of South Korea. Despite that known fact, efforts to improve life in that region must continue at the negotiating table.

There are countless troublespots around the world where people suffer to the extent that they would prefer risking their lives to move to a better place. The United Nations seems almost powerless in trying to achieve relief for people trapped in violent, power-hungry regimes.

Journalists are still paying with their lives to reveal truths to the world about powerful regimes that shun the free press. With Trump in open warfare against the media, who must do their job, it raises new questions about democracy in that country.

The road to a better world will not depend on how many nuclear bombs a country has, but it will depend on how strong that country is with people who are committed to democracy, decency, freedom and truth.

Border crossing: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae In cross the military demarcation line at the border village of Panmunjom in Demilitarized Zone last month (Photograph by Korea Summit Press Pool/AP)

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Published May 05, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated May 04, 2018 at 7:54 pm)

Caution over peace gestures in Korea

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