July 27 marks the 65th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement when the US, North Korea and China signed a ceasefire to halt three years of brutal fighting which claimed 4 million lives. When the military commanders laid down their weapons, they promised to return within 90 days to negotiate a peace agreement to end the Korean War.
Sixty-five years later, after two historic summits between the two Koreas at Panmunjom and between North Korea and the United States in Singapore, we are the closest ever to seeing a peace process that will yield that long-awaited peace agreement.
In Singapore, US President Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un committed to improving relations between the two countries, establishing a peace regime and denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. The first step toward advancing this longer process, which was the last item both leaders agreed to, is North Korea’s return of the remains of the US servicemen from the war. According to KBS World Radio, North Korea is slated to repatriate two truckloads of wooden boxes of American soldiers on the anniversary.
Already, North Korea has halted nuclear and missile testing, and the United States and South Korea have suspended their joint war drills. According to Vincent Brooks, US Commander of US Forces in Korea, almost a year has passed without North Korea conducting a nuclear test. Furthermore, Pyongyang has returned all detained Americans and has begun to dismantle a satellite launch site, according to the think tank 38 North.
At a July 25 Senate Foreign Relations hearing, in response to Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy’s tough questioning on whether North Korea agreed to the US definition of denuclearization, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo affirmed that the North Koreans agreed to denuclearize according to a US definition of denuclearization that was “not dissimilar to how the UN has characterized it, [or] how South Koreans have characterized it.”