Pages 9

Seventy-one years have passed since the Korean peninsula was divided by the United States and the Soviet Union into two occupation zones along the 38th parallel. On the Korean peninsula, there exists two sovereign statesthe Republic of Korea (ROK or South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea)—both of whom hold a separate membership at the United Nations. The two Korean states have incompatible social-economic-political systems. In June 1950, the North attempted to unify the Korean peninsula by force without success. In the early 1970s, the two Korean states attempted to unify by peaceful means but the dialogue soon stalled. In the 1990s, ROK’s “Sunshine Policy” of reconciliation of cooperation with the DPRK led to a thawing of frozen inter-Korean relations, resulting in the first-ever inter-Korean summit meeting, personal exchanges, and joint economic projects. The North’s continued nuclear ambitions, however, proved the main stumbling block to the process of Korean peace. The DPRK is now armed with nuclear weapons and possesses longrange missile capability. As mutual distrust persists and military crisis recurs periodically between Seoul and Pyongyang, the prospects for a peaceful unification appear remote and bleak.