It’s a dangerous job to try and remove sixty-five year old landmines from unstable soil, but that is the task at hand for South and North Korean soldiers. North Korea’s ever charismatic leader Kim Jong-Un has begun lowering his defenses for the first time. This came in the form of landmines being removed from the border of the two Koreas, known as the DMZ
Surprisingly Donald Trump might have had a role in this process. On June 12th of this year Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un met for the first time, and Trump had nothing but good things to say about him. The two met in order to work towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but it seems like they came away as friends. CNN released an article about their meeting after which Trump said: “I think our whole relationship with North Korea and the Korean Peninsula is going to be a very different situation than it has in the past.”
Also, a little more than a week ago on September 29th, Donald Trump was quoted in numerous articles as saying “We fell in love” when referring to his relationship with Kim Jong-Un.
Kim Jong-Un seems to be finally letting his guard down, but should we take it at face value?
The removal of landmines on the border is a great first step, but Trump’s fondness of Kim Jong-Un shouldn’t be reassuring.
This is because Trump has a history of pandering to heavy handed leaders. Vladimir Putin has been praised by Trump many times, enough so that CNN released an article chronicling his statements on Putin. Trump has said things like: I believe that President Putin really feels, and he feels strongly, that he did not meddle in our election.”
Since 1953 when the Korean war unofficially came to a close, North Korea has been isolated and hostile to the outside world. Through its hereditary dictatorship, the Kims have maintained total control of North Korea. South Korea sits prosperously only a few miles below, but contact between the two is scarce. This is why it’s exciting to hear about the removal of the land mines that separate the two.
In March of 2017 I went to South Korea with my school to talk to South Koreans about the idea of reunification. From my experience the youth of South Korea are less interested in reunification than the adults. Being in Seoul and going to the DMZ to look into North Korea was shocking. South Korea is so clearly prospering and at moments in Seoul I felt like I was in some bizarre future. Just across the border though is North Korea, one of the least prosperous nations in the world.
South Korea doesn’t feel like it needs to reunify with the North. North Korea is the one who would benefit from reunification.
Though the connection to the North might be fading, reunifying is still the goal of the South, and the removal of landmines is an important first step.
It’s good to be optimistic about the future of North Korea, but the thought of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un being close is odd. Kim Jong-Un has had little direct contact with the United States and yet the two have bonded quite quickly. Trump should give more respect to the people living in terrible conditions under his rule and keep their relationship political.
Maybe Donald Trump really is coaxing Kim Jong-Un down from the ledge, but I don’t think he’s going about it in the right way, and I don’t trust him. It’s good the landmines are being removed, and it’s good Trump is talking to him, but we can’t forget the severity of the situation. Kim Jong-Un is a despotic monarch and millions have suffered under him. Trump should be more cognizant of who Un is.
With any luck, the future is bright for North Korea. If Trump’s friendship is what it takes then we’ll have to live with it.