[OUTLOOK]Ideology Splits Unification Proponents

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[OUTLOOK]Ideology Splits Unification Proponents

A joke that everyone walking the streets of Seoul would raise their hand if someone asked "who was a president of a company" used to make the rounds. Similarly, if someone were to say "anti-reunification, anti-reform conservative," this would prompt many people to think they were being referred to, and they would seek the identity of the person whose mouth uttered those words. This was how the current ideological debate or conflict within South Korea began.

What happened before the debate was the understanding that parts of President Kim Dae-jung's sunshine and reform policies with tinges of socialism were failing or being blocked. This understanding was shared by both those who supported and opposed the president.

Anxiousness began to be replaced with the arrogant confidence of supporters. This anxiousness has given rise to the "anti-reunification, anti-reform conservative" attacks, which have no clear targets.

Wherever there is consciousness, there is conflict. Even between parents and children and siblings, the most intimate relationships, there is much conflict.

In fact, the closer the relationship, the greater the number and larger the size of the conflicts.

Strife exists not just between the Juche ideology of the North and the liberalism of the South. Nonexistence of conflict is fiction, not reality.

There is no reason to exaggerate the ideological debate or the tension within the South as seriously dangerous.

Conflict is not just to be resolved, but acknowledged. Let us acknowledge that disagreements and strife is part of normal life.

Then, some conflicts will dissipate; other will resurface. Union is always the source of new disagreements.

Marriage is a good example. Strife that would not have existed if not married, develops because of marriage.

The unity aspirations of the sunshine policy were highly visible at first, but now more conflict is developing.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il would not have dared to request 2 million kilowatts in electricity from the South if President Kim had not declared the sunshine policy. Because the South is unable to provide the electricity to the North, new conflict is forming.

I believe there is no anti-reunification force in the South. An absolute majority wants reunification, with the South maintaining intact liberalism, democracy and the market economy.

They are the ones who think the establishment of a federation is still too early. The Juche ideology holds reunification, socialism, and hereditary dictatorship from father to son as optimal. Of the three factors, liberalism is in discord with the socialist economy and the Kim Jong-il dictatorship.

But a closer analysis shows that the Juche ideology essentially means a Kim Jong-il dictatorship. Reunification and socialism are just its limbs or the clothes the dictator wears.

Even if there are no clothes, just the dictatorship, the Juche ideology can exist, but clothes without the dictatorship cannot possibly exist.

If the objective of the sunshine policy lies in taking off the coat of Juche ideology from the body of Kim Jong-il, this is a fundamental error, because Kim Jong-il himself, not the coat, is the Juche ideology. What reveals this fact is the consciousness of sunshine.

The most disappointing by-product of the sunshine policy for its supporters is the afore-mentioned anxiousness. This anxiousness gives birth to the obsession that reform must be socialistic.

It's part of the psychology wishing to resemble the North by wearing its coat since the South cannot disrobe the North in this respect, although even in China, where communism prevails, a market economy is being pursued separate from socialism and bureaucracy.

This subconscious anxiousness could spread. In the process, irresponsible statements could develop. Statements such as "anti-reunification, anti-reform conservative force" that challenge the people in the South and "let us reach unification by inheriting the spirit of Mangyeongdae," referring to former North Korean leader Kim Il-sung's birthplace, spring from the factions.

These irresponsible remarks cannot be hidden behind the sunshine consciousness by mouthing "I have never said such a thing"and "Why make such a big deal about that?" Let us instead discuss productively our ideological differences.


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The writer is the editor of the monthly magazine Emerge New Millennium.

by Kang Wee-seuk

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