In symbolic terms as well as in concrete outcome – the Korean summit, the first in 11 years, positively surprises. All the more in view of the fact that less than half a year ago, after Pyonyang’s latest missile tests, tensions on the peninsula rose to their peak since the Bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island and the sinking, allegedly by the North, of the South Korean corvette Cheonan back in 2010.
The final impact of the two leaders’ stepping across their countries’ border – in correct terms: armistice line – in obvious harmony is impossible to gauge at this point of time. Sceptics point to the last summit, in 2007, between South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the father of Kim Jong-un, at which a similar peace declaration was signed. Just like this time, it called for international talks to replace the armistice ending the Korean War in 1953 with a permanent peace treaty. However, the honeymoon ended as soon as the conservative Lee Myung-bak, a harsh critic of the North Korean regime, became president in 2008.
Why might the 2018 summit turn out differently? One reason could be found in the geopolitical changes during the last decade, effectively re-shaping the distribution of power along the Pacific rim. A major factor is the rapprochement between Russia and China, described by some experts as a loose, geostrategical entente to contain US influence in the area. The non-Western world is in the ascendancy, its economies, for the first