Finally, after two long years, the two Koreas have finally agreed to resume communicating with each other.
After their escalating war of words in the last several months, it appeared that both sides were preparing for outright war. Good thing that North Korea has come to its senses. Its pronouncements made the Hermit Kingdom more of a pariah state that it already was, which is to say that few countries in the world wanted to have anything to do with the communist state.
While it would be a mistake to consider this a sure sign that North Korea is ready to end its saber rattling and cease its threats to wage nuclear war against South Korea, the United States and even Japan, at the very least it is a positive development.
For these past few months, North Korea has kept the entire world on edge with its threats to use the deadliest weapons in its arsenal—its nuclear bombs.
While their nukes may not be as sophisticated as the ones possessed by the US, Russia or China, they are still capable of unthinkable damage. The fallout alone will endanger countless millions of lives.
The Philippines has a stake in this. For one, there are thousands of Filipinos living and working in South Korea. For another, Seoul is one of Manila’s major trading partners, and the South Koreans have become one of the country’s biggest tourist markets.
Beyond this, there is the terrifying thought that North Korea may actually launch a nuclear attack on any of its perceived enemies, even accidentally. All it takes is one unhinged mind among the mysterious senior leadership of the country to order the launching of one dirty nuke. Should this happen, the consequences will be clear. That enemy or enemies will be forced to retaliate, quite probably resulting in the obliteration of Pyongyang.
In the event nukes are used, the fallout will affect all the countries in the region, the Philippines included.
The North and South will be talking at government levels. There will be no backdoor channeling of any kind. What the two sides agree on will be binding, although the North has shown the capacity to abandon agreements for the most whimsical of reasons.
No to audacious demands
Hopefully, China will exert some pressure on North Korea to negotiate rationally. There should be no audacious demands, and the aid that the North so desperately needs should be offered willingly by the South. The US, Japan and all other nations willing to give aid will surely come forward. Even the Philippines could, conceivably, do its part in sending some help to one of the most impoverished nations on earth.
The North Korean leadership must be aware of how desperate their straits are. The majority of their people go hungry as a matter of course. At their most desperate, they feed on grass and tree bark. They are even willing to risk death by crossing over to either South Korea or China.
It is the country’s tragedy that the obsolete centralized economy that is the hallmark of pure communism has been their undoing ever since North Korea was founded. They may have a one million-strong military, but little else.
Their economy is in tatters and there is no indication that the country is anywhere near being able to feed itself.
The bulk of assistance will come from next door, of course.
There is no reason to believe that South Korea will not resume sending aid to the North. The world may see them as two states, but for the people of both, they see each other as simply Koreans. They are one people. And who else will help the most desperate of Koreans but the people of Korea themselves?
Thetalks are expected to result in the reopening of the doors to the industrial estate inside the North to the South Koreans who handle executive and management positions therein, but who were denied entry when the word war between the two sides was at its peak.
Beyond this, little else should be expected. Like all great journeys, it must be taken one step at a time.