Time has come for the reunification of the Korean peninsula
Indeed, this meeting of the leaders of the two Koreas – the DPRK's Kim Jong-un and South Korea's Moon Jae-in – is an event of world-historical importance after decades of enmity during which conflict seemed far more likely a prospect than sustainable and meaningful peace in this tortured land.
It is fair to say also that the rapidity of the thaw currently underway on the Korean peninsula has taken the world by surprise. We have undoubtedly traveled a long way in just a few short months, when we consider that US President Donald Trump was threatening the DPRK via Twitter at the beginning of 2018.
So, what has brought about this sea change? What factor is now in place that was absent previously when it comes to applying the brakes to a peninsula that was akin to a speeding train, hurtling down a track towards disaster?
Here, it is impossible to overlook the significance of the election of South Korea's President Moon Jae-in in May 2017, after his predecessor Park Guen-hey came unstuck by a political scandal, leading to her impeachment. Moon, a former student activist and human rights lawyer, has, it appears, arrived on the scene as the living embodiment of the dictum 'Cometh the hour, cometh the man'.
Crucially, a central plank of Moon's foreign policy is his belief in the peaceful reunification of North and South. It is an objective which, if it were to come to pass, would close the chapter on generations of suffering and strife under the shadow of nuclear Armageddon.
Kim Jong-un, meanwhile, despite being viewed in the West through the goggles of grotesque caricature reserved for leaders who refuse to kowtow, has demonstrated a commitment to peace and reconciliation that is consonant with a deep understanding of the legacy of suffering in a region whose development has been deformed by the asphyxiating pressure exerted against it over many decades by US-led Western imperialism.
It is a key point of which Western ideologues are either ignorant or choose to ignore – i.e. the impossibility of a society being able to flourish and develop while being strangled by economic blockade, sanctions and/or the threat of imminent war and nuclear obliteration. It is akin to squeezing someone's neck while berating them for not breathing properly.
The common representation of the DPRK has been of a hermit kingdom in which the country's 25 million people have been reduced to unthinking automatons, ideologically conditioned from the moment they are born to cultishly obey and venerate their 'Dear Leader' under a system of ineffable inhumanity, brutality, and cruelty. It is a state and society, we are meant to believe, which resembles the one depicted in George Orwell's celebrated novel '1984' – a despotic, totalitarian dystopia and vast prison house.
But is this the whole story when it comes to North Korea? Moreover, is it even part of the story? And if not the whole story or part of the story, when it comes to North Korea, what is the story?
Writer and novelist Andre Vltchek is someone who has visited the DPRK as part of an international peace mission. In an open letter to Donald Trump at the height of the nuclear sabre-rattling emanating from the White House against the DPRK, Vltcheck wrote:
"North Koreans are supposed to look and behave like a nation of brainless robots, lacking all basic emotions and individuality, staring forward without seeing much, unable to feel pain, compassion or love.
"You don't want to see the truth, the reality, and you want others to be blind as well.
"Even if you'll blow the entire DPRK to pieces, you'll actually not see much anyway, you'll see almost nothing: just your own missiles shooting from battleships and submarines, your own airplanes taking-off from aircraft carriers, as well as some computer-generated images of powerful explosions. No pain, no reality, and no agony: nothing will get to you; nothing will reach you and your citizens."
If, up to now, the DPRK has been a state and society that has turned away from engagement with the West, who could possibly blame them given the deep scars left by decades of Japanese colonialism and imperialism, allied to the mammoth destruction wrought by the 1950-53 war against the US and its allies?
And this is without factoring in economic sanctions, the thousands of missiles that are pointed at the country, plus the presence of thousands of US troops in the South and the nuclear-armed US Navy battle groups patrolling off its shores.
While such a state of affairs may be conducive to the aims and character of US imperialism, it flies in the face of the yearning for peace and reunification on the part of the Korean people themselves, thus inimical to their interests and future.
Again and again, only when the world wakes up to the truth that the enemies of progress are those who pontificate about democracy and human rights, while laying waste to country after country, will peace and stability rather than chaos and conflict reign.
The historic meeting and summit between Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in allows us to hope that not only the Korean peninsula but the entire world may finally be ready to throw off the dogs of war and embrace instead the merchants of peace.
Such an embrace is long overdue.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.