This Friday will be a historic day. Moon Jae In, President of the Republic of Korea , and Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, will sit together in the Peace House at Panmunjom for an inter-Korean leaders' summit. The talks are expected to focus on denuclearisation and peace on the Korean Peninsula as well as inter-Korean relations.

To attend this inter-Korean summit the North Korean leader will cross to the south at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the peninsula. This carries a significant symbolism in contrast to the previous two summit meetings which were held in North Korea.

In recent few months, the world has been surprised with the speed and scope of developments on the peninsula as almost all media had spent several years on reporting North Korea's provocations - headlines focused on the North's nuclear development and tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles that could presumably reach faraway places such as New Zealand.

This year North Korea stepped out of isolation and sent its athletes to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics with 92 other countries. The world witnessed North and South Korean athletes marching together under a unified Korean flag in PyeongChang.


A series of diplomatic steps during and after the Olympics have become the seeds for the breakthrough on the Korean peninsula and the restart of dialogue. Among these steps, visits of the special envoy of President Moon to North Korea and the United States were highlights.

United States President Donald Trump showed his determination over the North Korean issue by readily agreeing to meet the North Korean leader in May.

Kim Jong Un made clear his willingness for denuclearisation to President Moon's special envoy, and later to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Kim has also vowed a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests while dialogue is under way.

Since his inauguration last May, President Moon has maintained that the North Korean nuclear issue should be resolved in a peaceful and diplomatic manner. A military solution is not an option and there cannot be another war on the Korean Peninsula.

President Moon has also made it clear for the Korean Government to play a more leading role in achieving denuclearisation of the peninsula. The invitation to North Korea to participate in the PyeongChang Olympics was made by President Moon in his Berlin speech last July when he declared the goal to make the PyeongChang Winter Olympics an "Olympics of Peace". However, this progress has not been achieved by the Korean Government alone.

The international community, including our reliable partner New Zealand, has sent a consistent and clear message to North Korea that it should give up its nuclear ambitions and come back to the dialogue table.

UN member states have also shown strong solidarity in implementing Security Council sanctions in order to influence North Korea to change its course.

As the ROK Ambassador to New Zealand, I sincerely appreciate the continued support of the New Zealand Government. A statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters on March 30 is an especially encouraging one in which he welcomed my Government's leadership in laying the foundations for summit meetings.


I hope the summits can deliver significant progress in realising a denuclearised North Korea, as well as create a road map toward permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Inter-Korean dialogue and talks between North Korea and the United States will reinforce each other.

We are now poised to witness one of the most historical moments, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the peaceful resolution of an issue that has long plagued the Korean Peninsula.

We must make the most of this opportunity. For Korea our peace and prosperity is at stake, but it is also important for the region and the world.

No country, including New Zealand, is immune to threats from North Korea. Instability in the region directly affects Kiwis' lives, especially in the trade sector. Seven of New Zealand's top 10 partners are in Asia.

I am sure New Zealand will go hand in hand with us in this journey toward peace on the Korean Peninsula as 6000 young Kiwis did 68 years ago during the Korean War.

Seung-bae Yeo is the Republic of Korea's Ambassador to New Zealand.