Korea: Meeting of North and South
The half-century of antagonism between North and South Korea, who officially remain in a state of war, eased dramatically in June 2000 when South Korea's Kim Dae Jung met with Kim Jong II in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang. The summit marked the first-ever meeting of the leaders of the two countries, whose simmering animosity erupted into open aggression as recently as 1999. Although largely symbolic at this stage, the officials signed a hopeful, yet vague, agreement that outlined plans for unification and peace, reunions of families separated since the war, and open communication between the leaders. In Sept. 2000 defense ministers from the two nations met to discuss a range of military issues, including the restoration of rail links between the north and south, which would require the clearance of thousands of landmines. Solidifying this unexpected shift in relations was the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Kim Dae Jung in Oct. 2000. His North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Il also made news in October by playing lavish host to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Oct. 23–24, cracking the diplomatic door even further on what is considered the world's most reclusive nation.