America and the rest of the world are about to witness the most historically significant meeting since the 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev talks. The Singapore Summit will consume all media outlets and has the potential of beginning a peaceful resolution to a volatile international crisis. It could also be a possible first step to the reunification of two nations, a la Germany, 1987. To understand what is really at stake, you must understand the following.

Before 1910, Korea was a peaceful and beautiful farming country ruled by a succession of kings. During the Russia-Japan war, Japan took control of Korea for the next 35 years. Japanese culture and religion are still evident in north and south Korea, a hold-over from that period. After World War II, allies US and Russia agreed that each would control half of Korea much like the post-war agreements regarding other countries of the world. Korea was divided with Russia taking the north and the US taking the south. Russia installed a communist regime in the north under Chairman Kim Tu Bong, later ceding influence to China. The US installed a capitalist democracy in the south under Kim Koo. In 1948, Kim Il Sung became the dictator of North Korea until his death in 1994 when his son, Kim Jong Il, became head of state.

In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea with the objective of reunification of the two countries under communism. The United Nations sent military forces from several nations into South Korea under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. The UN forces, predominantly US, ran the North Koreans back into their country and continued to push them all the way to their border with China. China, fearing reunification of the Koreas as a democracy, entered the fray causing heavy casualties on the UN forces which retreated back to their borders. In 1953, an armistice, or cease fire, was signed between the north and the south. This agreement established a demilitarized zone (DMZ) at the 38th parallel with a buffer zone containing only a few soldiers from both countries to ensure border security. However, an end to the war was never declared–there was never a surrender of either side.

North Korea flourished under communism for several years until they became consumed with military power pouring their economy into weapons and combatants. At the same time, South Korea was coming of age in its democracy with international trade sky-rocketing its economy. North Korea shocked the world in 2006 when it tested a nuclear bomb. The UN immediately enacted a resolution prohibiting further tests by the Kim Jong Il regime. A second test came in 2009. In December, 2011, Kim Jong Il died, and his son, Kim Jong Un, succeeded him. Within a few months, the new dictator test-launched a technically advanced missile followed by a third bomb test in February, 2013. Since then, there have been three more nuclear bomb tests and 26 ballistic missile tests. The last missile test was an intercontinental missile which demonstrated the capability to reach anywhere in the US.

Kim Jong Un initiated the songun philosophy of defense, meaning “army first,” with the motto, “everyone feeds the army.” Over the last five years, he has radically and exponentially advanced the political and military pursuits of his father and grandfather. Obviously, he is determined to secure his dictatorship by military power, mostly in the form of nuclear ballistic missile capability. This effort comes at the expense of nation-wide poverty of his people and decimation of his economy. He has not shown a desire for quality of life for North Koreans, but rather a desire for global extortion and self aggrandizement. This type of rogue leader in possession of nuclear bombs also paves the way for terrorists to obtain tactical nuclear weapons.

It is going to be an extremely difficult negotiation. Convincing a ruthless dictator to give up what he sees as central to his survival and world view seems virtually impossible. Based on past promise reneging by him and his predecessors, we should be very skeptical about what may appear to be an accommodating spirit. The summit also has critical implications regarding our relationship with China, Russia, Japan, and South Korea. But, the bottom line is that the world must stop North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons. The question is how–by diplomacy or by military action. This summit will probably determine which will have to be used. Pray for godly wisdom for our president and his staff.