The English version of the Panmunjom Declaration circulated to the United Nations member countries is causing a controversy as it stated that the two Koreas “agreed to declare the end of war this year.” Unlike the original text, which says, “During this year … South and North Korea agreed to actively pursue trilateral meetings involving the two Koreas and the United States, or quadrilateral meetings involving the two Koreas, the United States and China with a view to declaring an end to the War,” the English version is firmly stating that two Koreas will declare an end to the War within the year. Some people in the diplomatic circle express concern that altering the phrase in the English version in the intention of North Korea ahead of the upcoming inter-Korean summit could negatively affect cooperation between the United States and South Korea, especially when Washington is maintaining its principle not to declare an end to the War unless North Korea takes concrete steps toward denuclearization.
The Article 3, section 2 of the English version of the Panmunjom Declaration, which the two Koreas submitted jointly to the United Nations on Thursday, states that both parties (South and North Korea) “agreed to declare the end of war this year.” The English version mentions replacing the armistice with a peace agreement or holding a trilateral or quadrilateral meeting in a separate sentence, using the word “promote.”
This is different from the English version of the Panmunjom Declaration circulated by Cheong Wa Dae right after the inter-Korean summit on April 27. It said the two Koreas “agreed to actively pursue” trilateral or quadrilateral meeting to declare an end to the War within the year just like it is written in the original text.
The English version of the Panmunjom Declaration submitted to the United Nations is particularly controversial as it is almost the same as the English version written by North Korea. The Korean Central News Agency wrote in its English edition that “The north and the south agreed to declare the end of war this year.” Lee Sung-yoon,, professor of Korean studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, told VOA on Tuesday that for the two Koreas to submit an English version to the United Nations that is different from the original Panmunjom Declaration is problematic.