Reunification of North and South Korea
When World War II ended in 1945, Japan lost control of Korea to allied forces. In much the same way that Germany was split after the war, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel, with the Soviet Union administering the northern half and the United States administering the southern half. Syngman Rhee, an anti-communist dictator in the south, and Kim Il Sung, a communist dictator in the north—who both claimed to be the legitimate governing power of all of Korea—fought along the 38th parallel with support from their allies: the United States and the USSR, respectively. On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea and real war began. North Korea, backed by the Soviet Union and China, pushed past the 38th parallel and engaged with South Korean forces. It lasted until 1953, when the Commander-in-Chief of UN forces, the Supreme Commander of the KPA, and the commander of the Chinese People’s Volunteers signed the Korean Armistice Agreement. (Note that neither South Korean nor U.S. leadership were involved in the signing.)
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, relations between North and South Korea, as well as between North Korea and the rest of the world, were a veritable roller coaster. Discussions about reunifying split families, co-hosting the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and economic cooperation started, stalled, restarted, and failed. International tensions mounted, too, as North Korea announced its growing nuclear program, which included experiments in uranium enrichment, a first step in the creation of nuclear weapons.
Kim Il-sung died of a sudden heart attack on July 8, 1994. Although the means of succession had not been strictly set down, Kim’s son, Kim Jong-il, succeeded his father by becoming the chairman of the most powerful state institution in the country, The National Defense Commission. Kim Jong-il adopted an ideology known as Songgun — “Army First” — which transformed the country from a traditional communist government to a military dictatorship. In 2005, North Korea announced that it had completed its first underground nuclear test, and its ongoing nuclear program continues to be a point of contention in the international community. Outcry over unconfirmed violations of human rights by the North Korean government has also stymied international acceptance. Kim Jong-il died on December 17, 2011, and his son, Kim Jong-un, took power. How this new, young leader will guide his country and interact on the international stage remains to be seen.
Recently, Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, has finally agreed to meet the South Korean President Moon Jae In. This is a tangible positive step towards a prosperous united Korea. In the summit, Kim promised to end the nuclearization and the weapon testing, and to dismantle the Punggyeri nuclear testing area. According to some intelocutors, any agreement about the denuclearization would not ensure the contingency of the US troops leaving the South Korea. With this, South Korea has decided to stop the propaganda that put the blame on the demilitarized zone (DMZ) which has served as a borderline between the two states since the 1950 Korean War. Furthermore, Moon indicated that he plans to submit a formal declaration of peace between North and South Korea.
However, one might wonder why the two leaders just suddenly had a meeting. To cut the curiousity, what happened was that in February 2018, the North Korea sent delegates for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang where Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo-Jang became the first ruling Kim to set foot on the land of South Korea after the war in 1953. Afterwards, she invited Moon to visit Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. Consequently, the meeting was scheduled leaving analysts to speculate that North Korea might be suffering from increased sanctions and now needs South Korea’s help.
People then began talking about Korea being unified becaue there has been a signed document of agreement called Pammunjon Decalaration for Peace, Prosperity, and Unification of Korean Peninsula. Many are in fact do not share familial ties with the North and have their own considerations about the issue. Most Koreans today weigh its likelihood and benefit of the South if ever the reunification will come in reality anytime soon. Indeed, the summit between the two leaders and their true intentions might be a start. Nonetheless, the Korean people should be the one to determine their own future of how will they share their land.
South Koreans are divided on the reunification of the South and North Korea, some agree to it while some don’t. As mentioned, the two countries have been separated for many years hence, they are different from each other. In planning to reunite the two, the government should make sure that citizens from both country will benefit from the reunification and will live harmoniously with each other.
Factors such as economy, politics, and society are being considered in the reunification of North and South Korea. Economically, the reunification may result to increased national resources hence, they can be used in the development of the country. Available jobs will also increase however, there will be high discrimination towards the North Koreans if the company they will enter is run or composed mostly of South Koreans so, they may not be employed. However, economy in both North and South Korea recently is low and reuniting them may lead to the worsening of the economy. Actually, based on past merges of other countries, such as the East and West Germany, reunification usually leads to the downfall of the economy.
In South Korea, US-Japan troops are present. They protect South Korea from North Korea in case of conflict but, US-Japan troops have a political agenda for giving troops to South Korea. When reunification happens, the Koreans may remove the US-Japan troops in their land and they will no longer be used for the benefit of US and Japan. In terms of politics, since North and South Korea have a different system, this may cause conflict among the citizens. A solution for this is that they should have a two-system government but is still recognized as one country, similar to China. The reunification of North and South Korea will intensify the security in their country since one of the assets of North Korea is their military equipment, and South Korea is also known for being a safe country. However, the two countries have a contrasting policy on guns which may lead to conflict with defense strategy. For their military service, the two should also compromise to a number of years the males would have to serve because in North Korea, it is for 10 years while in South, it is only for two.
Finally, socially, South and North Korea have great cultural differences. South Koreans may not be accepted by North Koreans since South Koreans are liberal while North Koreans are conservative. Additionally, the difference in terms of competitiveness level will push North Koreans to their limits. South Koreans are known to have long study and working hours while North Koreans do not. The main solution for this is that they should compromise to meet each other’s needs.
Trust is the main reason why some South Koreans disagree with the reunification. South Koreans are still doubtful of the North Korea’s true intention for the reunification, and because of previous disputes between North and South Korea, such as when North Korea attacked South Korea, South Koreans are finding it hard to regain trust towards North Koreans. North Korea’s leader is even known as someone who doesn’t keep his promises.
Some South Koreans agree with the reunification of the two countries. This includes prestigious universities of South Korea such as Seoul National University (SNU) and Kyung Hee University (KHU). The main mission of institutions like them in securing the success of the reunification is to narrow the gap between the two countries. In fact, SNU has started an exchange program with North Korea to develop a deeper understanding between the two natives. KHU will follow their step by developing an educational program that will help the two understand each other but, there is no definite plan yet. Even though they agree to the said reunification, South Koreans believe that the process should not be done hastily. The government should give it considerable time, effort, and consistency.
A wise man once said, peace is not only about the absence of the conflict, but it is also about the ability to handle and overcome the conflict. Between the two countries that have a different power and priority, peace can be achieved through the reunification. We all understand that North Korea is just like a strong brother of the South Korea. The rest of the world also know that there is a history of conflict between the two countries which still exists. However, the step to create the reunification is a brilliant idea to achieve peace in nowadays international system. Not only the political aspect, but also the economic, security, social, and cultural aspect can be completely integrated by reunification to build harmony between North Korea and South Korea, to grow peace in the international region, and to make a better condition for the further international system.
Team 10 IN10NSE Asia Student Summit 2018 Batch 2
- BEATRICE RICA R. TRIO
- BERMONICA A. SATUITO
- CHAN JIN WEE
- CHRISTIAN MARIE DC. PEREZ
- GABRIELLA ANGGITA DEA CHRISTIN
- HURIYATUL ULFAH
- POETI MAWAR
- TSAMRAT’Z ZAHRA ALYA PUTRI SHODIQIN
- MUHAMMAD FAZRUL BIN MOHAMMAD RADZI
- PIO HENRY C. DIAZ