An event is taking place tomorrow, near the border between North and South Korea that hasn't happened in more than two years. High level representatives from the North will meet face to face with high level representatives from the South. After a phone call heard around the world last week, when an official from the North spoke to an official from the South, the line of communication open back up. South Korea suggested that North Korea hold talks in person and the North accepted.
And according to the South Korea Unification Ministry, a group that works toward diplomacy with its northern neighbor, the topics will include, quote, issues related to improving inter-Korean relationships, including the Pyeongchang Olympic Games.
North and South Korea used to be one country. But today, most experts on the region say reunification is not likely, mostly because the two nations' governments are so different from one another. Would the communist government of North Korea be willing to give up its autocratic control and be absorbed by the South, or would voters in the democratic country of South Korea choose to be rule by the northern government? Those answers are almost certainly no.
But the fact that the two sides are talking, in a setting that's unlike anywhere else in the world is considered a breakthrough.WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Korean Demilitarized Zone, a place where two worlds collide, dictatorship and democracy staring each other down.
CHAD O'CARROLL, MANAGING DIRECTOR, KOREA RISK GROUP: It's a very, very vivid reminder just what's at stake on the peninsula.
RIPLEY: The first official talks in two years between North and South Korea will be held in Panmunjom, the so-called Truce Village, straddling the 38th Parallel, the tense dividing line between two neighbors still technically at war.
Delegations from both sides of the DMZ will be sitting a stone's throw away from the path a North Korean took in November, in a dramatic defection, shot five times, running South.
The talks will take place in Peace House, one of three buildings in the Truce Village, built specifically for discussion like this, two in the South, one in the North.
O'CARROLL: Sometimes the two couriers have disagreements over which side the talks should be on.
RIPLEY: This time, they're on the South side. North Korean officials will likely pass through the same blue huts I first visited in 2015, the year the last round of marathon talks took place, lasting some 44 hours, nearly two days.
To understand the DMZ, we need to go back to the end of World War II, the Soviets and Americans divided Korea just like they did Germany, most historians say the communists North tried to get it all by invading the South. The North says it was the other way around.
Technically, the war never ended. An armistice agreement put both Koreas back on their side of the dividing line, a standoff nearly 65 years and counting.
Today, North Korea is facing its toughest sanctions ever, over Leader Kim Jong-un's rapidly advancing nuclear program.
O'CARROLL: For the North Koreans, the motivation to take part in these talks is undoubtedly due to the pressure that is building on the country.
RIPLEY: Pressure that only stands to increase in 2018, unless both sides find a diplomatic path, a path that begins here in Panmunjom, a painful reminder of the region's violent past, tense present, and uncertain future.
Will Ripley, CNN, Seoul.
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