|A placard depicting three inter-Korean summits in 2000, 2007 and 2018 is hung outside a meeting room at the National Assembly in Seoul, Monday, the 20th anniversary of a "joint declaration on peace" announced at the first-ever inter-Korean summit on June 15, 2000, between then-President Kim Dae-jung and then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who are depicted on the left. In the middle is former President Roh Moo-hyun and the late Kim Jong-il, and on the right is President Moon Jae-in and current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Yonhap.|
Liberal lawmakers pursue peace treaty amid escalating threats from N. Korea
By Jung Da-min
More than 170 liberal lawmakers have called for a declaration to end the Korean War.
The timing of this move has raised controversy, as North Korea has been increasing its vitriol toward the South with threats of military action.
The two Koreas remain technically at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. Its three signatories were the U.S.-led United Nations Command, China and North Korea, while South Korea boycotted it.
Rep. Kim Kyung-hyup of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) and 173 other lawmakers, not only of the DPK but also other minor liberal parties and independent lawmakers, jointly submitted the resolution, Monday, the 20th anniversary of the first-ever inter-Korean summit.
In the resolution, they urged the two Koreas, the U.S. and China to declare the end of the war and start discussions on signing a peace treaty. They also called on Pyongyang and Washington to work on denuclearization talks, the leaders of the two Koreas to carry out their agreements reached at their summits, and the two Koreas to cooperate on health issues amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Declaring the end of the war has been considered one of the solutions toward peace on the Korean Peninsula, with leaders of the two Koreas pledging efforts for it during the Panmunjeom Declaration in April 2018.
"A declaration ending the Korean War will work as a positive signal for the security of the regime, which North Korea wants, and facilitate talks on denuclearization," Rep. Kim said in a briefing at the National Assembly. "We need to pursue it to achieve denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula."
The country's conservative main opposition United Future Party (UFP), however, strongly criticized the resolution, saying this was not the right time to seek it as the North is increasing its threats against the South over propaganda leaflets and other issues.
"Who would disagree with the idea of ending the war on the peninsula?" But this is the situation in which North Korea ignores the agreements it had reached earlier with the South and consistently threatens military provocation," UFP spokesman Rep. Bae June-young said in a statement.
"It will be a responsible ruling party and government that disclose to the nervous people how they will cope with the situation."
Independent lawmaker Yoon Sang-hyun, an international relations expert, said the liberal lawmakers' resolution would threaten the presence of United States Forces Korea (USFK) which is stationed here to prevent the North from reinvading the South.
"The declaration of the end of the war would mean the international community officially recognizes the North, a rogue state, as a normal state," he wrote on Facebook, Sunday. He said it also means the North would be accepted as a nuclear state by the U.S., China and the international society.
"This will change the diplomatic circumstances surrounding the peninsula: the goal of the North's complete denuclearization will be gone and the North, as an official nuclear state, partnering with the South, will demand withdrawal of the USFK."