World Kim, Moon join hands on peak of sa­cred North Korean vol­cano

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - World - 14

THE lead­ers of the ri­val Koreas took to the road for the fi­nal day of their sum­mit Thurs­day, stand­ing on the peak of a beau­ti­ful vol­cano con­sid­ered sa­cred in the North and a cen­ter­piece of pro­pa­ganda used to le­git­imize the Kim fam­ily’s rule, their hands clasped and raised in a pose of tri­umph. Their trip to the moun­tain on the North Korean-chi­nese bor­der, and the strik­ing photo-op that will res­onate in both Koreas, fol­lowed a day of wide-rang­ing agree­ments they trum­peted as a ma­jor step to­ward peace.

How­ever, their premier ac­cord on the is­sue that most wor­ries the world — the North’s pur­suit of nu­cle­artipped mis­siles that can ac­cu­rately strike the U.S. main­land — con­tained a big con­di­tion: Kim Jong Un stated that he would per­ma­nently dis­man­tle North Korea’s main nu­clear fa­cil­ity only if the United States takes un­spec­i­fied cor­re­spond­ing mea­sures.

Kim and South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in flew sep­a­rately to an air­port near Mount Paektu on Thurs­day morn­ing where they then met up and drove to the moun­tain.

Pho­tos showed the lead­ers smil­ing broadly as they posed at the sum­mit, their wives grin­ning at their sides, a bril­liant blue sky and the deep crater lake that tops the vol­cano in the back­ground; they also toured the shores of the lake. Mem­bers of the Kim fam­ily are re­ferred to as shar­ing the “Paektu Blood­line,” and the vol­cano is em­bla­zoned on the na­tional em­blem and lends its name to ev­ery­thing from rock­ets to power sta­tions.

Many South Kore­ans also feel drawn to the vol­cano, which, ac­cord­ing to Korean mythol­ogy, was the birth­place of Dan­gun, the founder of the first an­cient Korean king­dom, and has long been con­sid­ered one of the most beau­ti­ful places on the penin­sula. Not ev­ery­one was pleased, though. About 100 anti-north Korea pro­test­ers ral­lied in cen­tral Seoul to ex­press anger about the sum­mit and dis­played slo­gans that read, “No to SK-NK sum­mit that ben­e­fit(s) Kim Jong Un.”

Moon de­parted for South Korea later Thurs­day, as the lead­ers bask in the glow of the joint state­ment they set­tled Wed­nes­day. Com­pared to the vague lan­guage of their two ear­lier sum­mits, Kim and Moon seem to have agreed on an am­bi­tious pro­gram meant to tackle soar­ing ten­sions last year that had many fear­ing war as the North tested a string of in­creas­ingly pow­er­ful weapons.

Kim promised to ac­cept in­ter­na­tional in­spec­tors to mon­i­tor the clos­ing of a key mis­sile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon, and both lead­ers vowed to work to­gether to try to host the Sum­mer Olympics in 2032.

But while con­tain­ing sev­eral tan­ta­liz­ing of­fers, their joint state­ment ap­peared to fall short of the ma­jor steps many in Wash­ing­ton have been look­ing for — such as a com­mit­ment by Kim to pro­vide a list of North Korea’s nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties, a solid step-by-step time­line for clos­ing them down, or an agree­ment to al­low in­ter­na­tional in­spec­tors to as­sess progress or dis­cover vi­o­la­tions.

It also was un­clear what “cor­re­spond­ing steps” North Korea wants from the U.S. to dis­man­tle its nu­clear site.

The ques­tion is whether it will be enough for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to pick up where Moon has left off. Trump told re­porters Wed­nes­day that the out­come of the sum­mit was “very good news” and that “we’re mak­ing tremen­dous progress” with North Korea. He didn’t in­di­cate in his brief re­marks whether the U.S. would be will­ing to take fur­ther steps to en­cour­age North Korean ac­tion on de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.

Declar­ing they had made a ma­jor step to­ward peace, Moon and Kim stood side by side Wed­nes­day as they an­nounced their agree­ment.

“We have agreed to make the Korean Penin­sula a land of peace that is free from nu­clear weapons and nu­clear threat,” Kim said. “The road to our fu­ture will not al­ways be smooth and we may face chal­lenges and tri­als we can’t an­tic­i­pate. But we aren’t afraid of head­winds be­cause our strength will grow as we over­come each trial based on the strength of our na­tion.”

Moon urged unity for all Kore­ans in a speech he gave Wed­nes­day night to the crowd gath­ered for North Korea’s sig­na­ture mass games. “We have lived to­gether for 5,000 years and lived in sep­a­ra­tion for 70 years. I now pro­pose that we com­pletely elim­i­nate the hos­til­ity of the past 70 years and take a big step for­ward in peace so that we can be­come one again.”

His­to­ri­ans say the 5,000-year time­line of Korean his­tory is a ground­less claim that be­came part of South Korea’s of­fi­cial nar­ra­tive af­ter be­ing in­serted in school text­books dur­ing the rule of for­mer dic­ta­tor Chun Doo-hwan. This week’s sum­mit comes as Moon is un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure from Wash­ing­ton to find a path for­ward in ef­forts to get Kim to com­pletely — and uni­lat­er­ally — aban­don his nu­clear ar­se­nal. – AP A Jet Air­ways flight re­turned to Mum­bai, In­dia’s fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal, on Thurs­day af­ter dozens of pas­sen­gers com­plained of ear pain and nose bleed­ing due to the loss in cabin pres­sure.

An air­line state­ment said Flight 9W697 with 166 pas­sen­gers and five crew mem­bers landed nor­mally in Mum­bai. Med­i­cal help was given to 30 pas­sen­gers.

Oxy­gen masks were de­ployed dur­ing the emer­gency aboard the Boe­ing 737, said Dar­shak Hathi, a pas­sen­ger.

Ac­cord­ing to Fligh­tradar24 avi­a­tion track­ing site, the plane stopped climb­ing at 11,000 feet (3,350 me­ters) be­fore re­turn­ing to Mum­bai.

Hathi also said there was a prob­lem with the plane’s air con­di­tion­ing af­ter it took off from Mum­bai.

The Press Trust of In­dia news agency quoted an of­fi­cial as say­ing the mal­func­tion­ing oc­curred dur­ing the plane’s climb. The plane was head­ing to Jaipur, a tourist des­ti­na­tion and the cap­i­tal of Ra­jasthan state. – AP

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