Perhaps there might be some light at the end of the tunnel in the frigid relations between North and South Korea.
South Korea recently elected a new President, Park Geun-hye who in her campaign spoke of "decoupling humanitarian aid from politics" and said if elected she would "try to hold a summit meeting with Kim Jong-un", the new North Korean leader who came to power after the death of his father Kim Jong-il in December, 2011.
Ms. Park traveled to Pyongyang in 2002 and met with the father and discussed reconciliation between the North and the South.
Yesterday Kim-un spoke on state-run radio and television calling for an end to the "confrontation" with South Korea. In his speech he said, "A key to ending the divide of the nation and achieving unification is to end the situation of confrontation between the North and the South. A basic precondition to improving North-South relations and advancing national reunification is to honor and implement North-South joint declarations."
He was referring to signed agreements between his father and two former South Korean presidents in Pyongyang in 2000 and 2007 respectively. This was that time of the "Sunshine Policy" period of reconciliation and economic cooperation between the North and the South. These agreements resulted in billions of dollars of aid, trade and investment into the North.
But this "warming" of relations came to an abrupt end in 2008 when conservatives came to power in South Korea and with the election of hard line President Lee Myung-bak, all aid and investment to the North was suspended because of North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.
As for Kim-Jong-un's new softened approach toward the South a cynic could say anything emanating from any "leader" of the "Hermit Kingdom" is purely for propaganda purposes. Then again with North Korea's successful launch of a satellite in December, perhaps Kim-un is feeling ebullient over his countries recent success and brimming with confidence.
No matter; from here what appears significant is the total absence of the U.S. being mentioned in Kim-un's speech plus Ms. Park's previous efforts and long held desire for reconciliation with the North.
Of course the U.S. wants stronger sanctions placed on the North after its successful satellite launch, but on that score, what else is new. Any country that doesn't cow-tow to U.S. hegemony is automatically the "enemy".
Let's face it, North Korea developed nuclear weapons primarily as the ultimate deterrent from being pre-emptively attacked by the U.S. The North witnessed what happened with the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 as well as being linked preposterously with that country and Iran in George Bush's "State of the Union "axis of evil' speech in January 2002.
South Korea has long been garrisoned with some 50,000 U.S. troops (which the South Korean people resent and want removed). And the previous hard line government spouted U.S. inspired vitriol and propaganda over the North's nuclear weapons. But the South Korean people aren't overly concerned or exercised over the North's nuclear arsenal. They want better relations with the North, an easing of tensions, greater freedom to travel to the North with and reunification sometime down the road, (something Kim mentioned twice in one paragraph of his speech).
So now enter two new Korean leaders onto the scene.
Let's hope the U.S. can exercise some old fashioned "benign neglect" toward North Korea and let the two new Korean leaders conduct bilateral diplomacy without U.S. interference.
Or is that too much to expect from the U.S. global hegemonic imperialists?