Are We at War With North Korea?





North Korea conducted a nuclear test on Monday, the second such test in less than three years. In response to the incident, a senior administration official told the New York Times "that the United States would never grant full diplomatic recognition to North Korea, or sign a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War, unless its nuclear capability is dismantled." Wait, we're still at war with North Korea?

Sort of. The 1953 Korean War Armistice Agreement, signed by the United Nations Command, North Korea, and China, ended the conflict in a practical sense. It set up a system for exchanging prisoners of war, created a north-south boundary within a demilitarized zone, and marked the suspension of all open hostilities. It was not, however, intended as the final say on the matter. In fact, Article IV of the Armistice recommends that "the governments concerned on both sides" convene a conference within three months of signing to organize the withdrawal of foreign forces from the peninsula and settle the "Korea question"—roughly, who would rule over a reunited Korea. Talks did take place in Geneva in 1954, but they broke down over how, exactly, to hold fair elections for a unified government.



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