MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A single step symbolized a major wave of change between North and South Korea on Friday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stepped over the line separating his country from South Korea — becoming the first North Korean ruler to do so since 1953. The leaders declared a formal end to the Korean War.
This historic summit is largely focused on the north’s nuclear weapons arsenal. While some Koreans see this as a positive step towards a peaceful future, others are skeptical.
WCCO’s Kate Raddatz spoke with an expert on foreign affairs, who says he’s cautiously optimistic about Korea’s future.
As North Korean President Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-In shook hands, it marked the first time the two leaders have met in a decade.
“The symbolism of Kim stepping onto South Korean soil, that’s unprecedented,” said Andrew Latham, professor of Political Science at Macalester College, said.
Professor Andrew Latham studies international security and conflict. He says North Korea has vowed for peace before — only to back out. But this time could be different.
“I think he sees the future of his regime and his country involving reforms economic reforms. Getting out from international sanctions and getting access to western technology,” Latham said.
“Fantastic if the two sides could get together, but it will be hard,” Korean War Veteran Donald Van Eyll said.
Don Van Eyll fought in the Korean War with the U.S Army. He says he’s skeptical.
“When they’ve been enemies for this long just don’t by snap of the finger get good again,” Van Eyll said.
And the wild card in all this? President Donald Trump. Professor Latham says if North Korea keeps its promise, the possibility of the U.S denuclearizing the country could be on the table down the line.
“If that happens he will have the spot of one of the most important foreign policy presidents in American History. He will go down in history as someone who delivered big time, as he might put it on this important issue, it’s almost unbelievable,” Latham said.
President Trump and Kim Jong Un are expected to meet in the coming weeks. Trump tweeted Friday morning that “good things are happening, but only time will tell.”