Worries About Reunification Overoptimism Expressed
Voices of groups demanding reunification progress are getting louder and louder in the wake of the inter-Korea summit talks.
Those pro-reunification groups have in the past had their aims checked by powerful reactionaries who held sway in the political arena. But with the results of the summit talks being summarized with optimistic terms like peace, exchange and compromise, the groups are now having their day in the sun.
Experts believe that the groups will have a positive effect on exchange and cooperations between the two Koreas; they warn, however, that if the activites are over-rushed, it will cause needless troubles and disputes.
A lot of change is occurring on the college front. Hanchongyun(HCY), a national liberal student movement body, has started a campaign to inform the public about North Korea and to revoke the National Security Law(NSL).
HCY judges the recent change in public perceptions as a chance to legalize their status. After the 1996 demonstrations at Yonsei University, the government condemned them an illegal organization.
Seoul National University(SNU)'s General Student Association plans to visit North Korea in August. Ewha Women's University and Soongsil University plan to conduct various programs through which they can experience cultural exchanges with the North.
SNU's General Student Association hopes to go to the ancient sites of Parhae and Koguryo to see tombs of Korea's ancient kings, and to visit Kim Il-sung University in order to to conduct a joint seminar. If permission is granted by the Unification Ministry, this will be the first legal visit to North Korea by college students.
Minkahyup, a human rights group, is collecting signatures in order to petition the government to revoke the NSL. The first phase will continue until June 23. They will cooperate with other civil rights groups to achieve their goal of 1 million signatures inked by August.
The Korea Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation(KCRC) will try to arrange a dialogue with their North Korean counterpart to consolidate the July 4 South-North Joint Communique and Liberation Day celebrations.
The Seoul YMCA has organized a youth program to promote compromise and brotherly love between the people of the two Koreas. They plan to join hands with North Korea's Christian society to restore the YMCA in the North.
Seven religious organizations, including Buddhists, Protestants, and Catholics, will hold a peace celebration at Taehangno Street in coordination with the KCRC to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Korean War.
The Buddhist sect Chogye-jong has set up an organization to specialize in reunification issues; they have already commenced activities.
Designating June as 'Compromise and Concord Month,' Catholics will hold a prayer service at Chorwon, Kangwon Province, with 6,000 faithful kneeling to commemorate the start of the Korean War.
Sejong Institute researcher Paek Hak-soon insists that it's okay for South Korea to be confidence in North-South relations because South Korea is stronger than the North. He asserted, however, that after the government defines their basic policy of amity towards the North, the private sector must follow through.
Oh Seung-lyul of the Korea Institute for National Unification said that "efforts by the government are needed in order to settle problems that might arise due to increases in exchanges with the North."