The summit meeting between the two Korean heads of state, which took place in Pyongyang in June 2000, constitutes a major turning point in the peninsula's history. As the effects of the meeting are gradually unfolding, a period of detente no longer seems impossible. But major difficulties remain unsolved and Korea will continue to be one of the world's most volatile areas. The task of this essay is to identify and analyse some of the entrenched political patterns that will challenge policy-makers in the years ahead. To do so it is necessary to portray the conflict in Korea not only in conventional ideological and geopolitical terms, but also, and primarily, as a question of identity. From such a vantage-point two components are essential in the search for a more peaceful peninsula. Substantial progress has recently been made in the first realm, the need to approach security problems, no matter how volatile they seem. in a cooperative and dialogical, rather than merely a coercive manner. The second less accepted but perhaps more important factor, revolves around the necessity to recognize that dialogue has its limits, that the party on the other side of the DMZ cannot always be accommodated or subsumed into compromise. Needed is an ethics of difference: a willingness to accept that the other's sense of identity and politics may be inherently incompatible with one's own.