Between ideal and reality
The death of Kim Jong-il is a compelling issue to the world, which can lead up to significant impacts — positive or negative. Yet so far, there have not been any special transitions on the Korean Peninsula.
However, there is no doubt that the relationship between North and South Korea teeter on the brink. The third leader of Kim’s kingdom, Kim Jong-un, believed to be in his 20s, is continuing family business cautiously and stubbornly with his dutiful subordinates.
No one can predict whether he will make a fresh wind toward capitalism or continue to stabilize the current social unrest. With the current conflicts in the Middle East, including the war in Iraq, the North’s nuclear weapons strategic value has raised dramatically.
In that regard, the temporary disarmament agreement concluded in late February has played a key role. However, it still has ambivalence. It has been an instrumental stepping-stone for the South to evolve the current inter-Korean relationship, and has made the North participate in the six-party talks.
They had a bilateral agreement and made a deal in exchange for food aid and political support. However, after years of negotiation, North Korea has run afoul of the treaty.
North Korea conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 to pressure the United States in an apparent bid to sustain its international power. They expelled inspectors and went on to test nuclear devices.
In these heady days of vigilance, long-term plans and accurate decisions are more necessary than ever before. Continuous exchanges are the failsafe solution to improve the relationship between Seoul and Pyongyang.
Such plans may include the North taking advantages of the South as means for monetary gain. In turn, expanding cooperative businesses, such as the Kaesong Industrial Complex, creates a win-win strategy for both the North and South. By having a huge effect on paving the way for democracy, these definitely can have a potential power which can lead to internal changes in the North.
Although the South may risk financial losses in continuing business, it would be a reasonable cost for raising a resistance against an anachronistic system of the North. In view of cultural exchanges, K-pop which has aroused the world’s sympathy, is also enough to draw the North’s attention.
Countless mineral resources of the North are the properties for a unified Korea. However, most of these, such as anthracite and iron, being sold at giveaway prices to China, who in turn have been occupying mineral development rights.
These valuable resources should be shared with South Korea and not China. Trading mineral resources can contribute to inter-Korean economic cooperation.
We are between the ideal and the real. The North needs an end to brinkmanship for a start to statesmanship. If Kim Jong-un gives up the nuclear weapons, the North is nothing more than an isolated and impoverished nation to the U.S.
South Korea must argue that the North Korea issue is to be managed between the two states and thereby ward off foreign political interferences. The cutting-edge technology and resources in the South’s possession will eventually reach a limit. The unification is the only way to resolve the problem, and it will improve both national and latent power in Korean society at large. The tragedy of fratricidal should not be passed down to the next generations.
Above all things, we must realize that every effort cannot be snuffed out without a strong volition toward a peaceful unification.
The writer is a student at Konkuk University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org