By Sophia Stephens
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
After the April 20th peace summit between North and South Korean leaders Kim Jong-Un (N) and President Moon Jae-in, Seattle-area Koreans and Korean Americans are tentatively hopeful for improved socio-political relations and potential reunification of the Korean Peninsula.
The promises between the two leaders included removal of all nuclear weapons in the peninsula, and to approach the United States for peace talks within the year. Both leaders have declared that the decision was not because of influence from President Donald Trump.
“We used to [be] one country, so we are supposed to be one,” said Caroline Ounsam Lee, who identifies as Korean. “I’m expecting the bright future is coming soon. I know it’s not always [easy to] embrace each other, but we all have to go through it. I am so grateful that I’m in the center of this historical moment.”
However, other members of the community are more hesitant of the outcomes promised to the Korean people in both countries.
“I’m hesitant to be excited for any talk of [a] peace agreement,” said Kate Kim, a Seattle-based Korean American. “Given the unreliability of North Korea’s public relations and the fact that peace talks like this have occurred sporadically over the years with little concrete resolution or change.”The last peace summit in 2007 between South Korean President Ro Moo-Hyun (S) and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il was met with similar hopes and near-euphoric responses from Korean media outlets.
However, they were swiftly dashed with the eventual failure of 2000’s Sunshine Policy, which was drawn at that year’s peace summit between then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il, partly due to Dae-jung’s $500 million bribe offered to Jong-il. Now-President Moon Jae-in arranged 2000’s peace summit while he was serving as an aide to Dae-jung.
In spite of conflicting media reports, public opinion, and a tense political atmosphere, hopes of reunification remain at the forefront of Korean and Korean American community concerns.
“I think it’s great if the two countries finally get unified,” said Korean American resident Hyuntae Kim. “It’s been too long.”
Sophia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.