The Birth of One Korea
When I opened my eyes on my birthday, I did not know history was going to be made, and unfathomable events were about to take place. On April 27th, 2018, North and South Korean leaders Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae In met at the Inter-Korean Peace House and Unification Pavilion, in order to restore peace in the country of Korea. It was the first time since the Korean War, over half a century ago, that a leader from North Korea stepped into South Korean territory. Could this incredible meeting lead to the unification of Korea?
I have two citizenships, one American and the other South Korean. Before I reach the age of eighteen, I need to choose which one to keep. There is an equal chance that I will pick either one. I could pick the South Korean citizenship because my family is of Korean heritage, and I could also pick American citizenship since I have lived here my whole life. There is only one reason why I hesitate to choose South Korean citizenship. In South Korea, enlistment in the military is mandatory if you are a citizen. Why? South Korea needs an active military in case of an attack from North Korea. Back in the 1950s, the Korean War was paused, but no truce was ever reached. This means that North Korea and South Korea are technically still fighting. Moreover, because of North Korea’s enormous army, South Korea has no choice but to generate and maintain a strong military defense. So, I had a little problem, because as much as I leaned toward South Korean citizenship, I also had no desire to join their military. However, when I found out that the two territories of Korea were going to meet with each other, I was filled with hope and excitement. Would peace finally exist again? This meant that the Korean War would be officially over, and likely ending the mandatory military enlistment in South Korea. Sure enough, when I woke up the next day, a vow was created between the two leaders to end the long war.
My whole family is South Korean, and this is a big part of my life. I speak Korean at home and visit my relatives in Korea almost every other summer. I also have many friends that live there as well. As news of current events began to emerge from the Korean area before the inter-Korean summit, I started to worry. North Korea was now capable of sending a missile to the U.S. so it was perfectly reasonable that South Korea would be its first target if conflict escalated. Yet as I watched the live footage of the meeting between Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae In, I realized that this could be the start of a new peace treaty, and maybe even Korea turning back into one country again. Most of all, I knew I could now not worry as much for the people in South Korea because South and North Korea had made at least a noteworthy step closer to peace, which was significant for me.
In the U.S. my opinion towards North Korea was similar to many others. I had thought that North Korea was just a nefarious country with a dictator devoted to create more and more nuclear arms. However, as their leader agreed with South Korea’s leader to make peace, North Korea took a large leap away from their infamous reputation, which lead many people such as myself to realize that North Korea has the ability to become a peaceful country which might even be able to unify with South Korea.
Even though it might not be an actual object, the inter-Korean summit was in a way, a great “birthday present”. The country that my family originated from, the place where my relatives live, where my South Korean friends go to school, had gotten so much closer to being one whole again, and not two separate parts. The two Koreas had promised to get rid of all weapons and missiles, avoiding the risk of another Korean War. Most of all, this was an event that could inspire other countries to do the same, to maintain peace instead of going to war with each other. This historic moment in Korea may well have been a major step nearer to a more tranquil, cordial, and nonviolent world.