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South, North Korea reached agreement to defuse crisis

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North and South Korea have come to an agreement, following marathon talks, on ending a tense military stand-off that had pushed the two rivals to the brink of armed conflict.

Background of the Crisis:

Seoul had begun loudspeaker broadcasts, which infuriate Pyongyang, after a landmine blast at the border injured two of its soldiers earlier this month. The South demanded an apology, while the North denied any involvement and threatened to attack the propaganda units as cross-border military tensions soared. The tensions bubbled over in a brief exchange of fire at the heavily guarded border last week. The latest crisis saw a rapid escalation in military movements, with South Korean and US fighter jets flying simulated bombing sorties and North Korea reportedly deploying dozens of submarines and doubling artillery units at the border.

Progress of the Deal:

The deal actually came after North Korea expressed regret over the landmine incident, though initially they denied planting the mine. In return, South Korea will stop anti-North propaganda broadcasts. South Korea’s defence ministry said troops would remain on high alert until it confirmed that the North had stepped down from a semi-war state ordered by leader Kim Jong-Un. The two sides also agreed to work towards resumption next month of reunions for families separated by the war, and to hold official talks in either Seoul or Pyongyang at a date to be decided.

Significance:

Technically, the two Koreas have been at war for the past 65 years since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a ceasefire that was never ratified by a formal peace treaty. Now it remains to be seen how far the agreement takes the two Koreas, beyond ending the current stand-off. Interestingly previous agreements that appeared to offer a new way forward for relations have actually stumbled straight out of the gate.

Important Points to Remember:

  • North Korea Capital – Pyongyang
  • North Korea Supreme leader – Kim Jong-un
  • North Korea Currency – North Korean won
  • South Korea Capital – Seoul
  • South Korea Currency – South Korean won
  • South Korea President – Park Geun-hye