Kim Jong Un (L) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Panmunjom, April 2018.

Twelve hours in Panmunjom—the village in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea that has long symbolized division and war—produced an unexpected miracle of peace on Friday. In the Panmunjom Declaration, Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un, the leaders of South and North Korea, pledged that “there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and thus a new era of peace has begun.” Given North Korea’s military provocations, the growing North Korean nuclear arsenal, and the acute sense of crisis that has haunted South Koreans over the last year, such a reversal looks surreal. But after attending all three summits between the two Koreas (in 2000, 2007, and 2018), I believe that this latest one represents real progress and lays the groundwork for lasting peace.

Although much commentary has focused on the remaining difficulties, which are considerable, it has missed just how much was accomplished last week.

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  • CHUNG-IN MOON is Special Adviser for Foreign Affairs and National Security to South Korean President Moon Jae-in and a Distinguished University Professor at Yonsei University.

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