North/South Korea Peace Talks

By Erica Wong |Staff Writer|

north-and-southNorth and South Korea’s agreement to resume peace talks beginning in November have once again elevated hopes in easing the high tensions on the peninsula.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has been calling for resumption of peace talks since February, and North Korean officials were welcomed at the Asian Games in Incheon.

Since North Korea’s visit to South Korea, however, there have been shots fired between the two, agitating their already strained relationship.

On Sunday Oct. 19, gunfire was exchanged across the DMZ line when North Korean soldiers approached the border and did not stop after warning shots were fired from South Korea, according to The Associated Press.

The history of the relationship between North and South Korea has been a tumultuous one.

In 1953, the Korean War ended in an armistice, meaning the two countries are technically still at war.

After the Korean War, many families were separated. Family reunions between North and South Korea is a frequently discussed topic during peace talks.

In February of this year, a rare family reunion took place “after North Korea called for better relations between the two sides,” according to BBC.

A number of students at Yonsei University, seemed uninterested in the peace talks.

“I don’t really care, honestly,” said senior Hong Jin-Ju.

“They are always planning to talk, but nothing ever happens.”

South Korea has one of the longest required military services in the world, according to CNN and Al Jazeera producer Stella Kim.

Geum Jin-Dong, an international relations major at Yonsei, already fulfilled his two-year requirement in the military.

“During my service, we were told every day that North Korea is the enemy. It was the only focus,” said Geum “It felt like being brainwashed,”

Although most men dread going, it’s ultimately for “our own safety,” and most Koreans don’t feel the need to change this law, according to Geum.

In general, much of the younger generations don’t have much hatred or negative emotion towards North Korea, rather simply indifference.

Some even view the potential reunification as a burden.

“I would rather not have North and South Korea merge because us South Koreans would end up having to pay higher taxes,” said Cho Min-sun, another Yonsei student. “The North has no money.”

South Korea is home to around 28,500 American troops, proof that the U.S. has a strong military presence in the country.

U.S. Army Specialist Daniel Kozlowski he mentioned the saying ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’.

“Considering the fact that we have always had a good relationship with Korea, you basically get, ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend, unless we were already friends, therefore we are now besties,’” he said.

America is concerned with peace talks between North and South Korea as it is beneficial for the U.S. in the long run.

“Because America has the highest funding for military assets in the world, as well as the best-trained personnel, we help train and supply the South Korean military,” explained Spc. Kozlowski. “In turn, they allow us to operate and establish a foothold within their country and their ranks.”

Since North Korea is a primary security threat to the United States, our alliance with South Korea is mutually beneficial.

With talks of North Korea potentially restricting their nuclear programs as well as reunification, the North and South Korean conflict is a subject of high importance within the international community.

Local citizens, however, remain unconvinced.

Kim Min-Yung, a Yonsei student, doesn’t keep up with the events anymore.

“They don’t have consistency. I think that’s what makes people not want to care about North Korea anymore. It’s annoying.”

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