[FOUNTAIN]Koreas learn to move past old conflictsThe Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released a report in the mid-1990s that tallied up the number of dead in 36 wars in history, which totaled 3 million to 5 million lives.
The statistics excluded World War I and World War II. The two world wars, which broke in the first half of the 20 century and less than three decades apart, killed nearly 50 million people. But the human race failed to learn a lesson from the tragedies, and wars continued to haunt the world.
David Starr Jordan, Stanford University’s first president, hypothesized in 1910 that civilizations would be unable to finance the enormous cost of wars and would not wage any more wars in the future. But contrary to his optimistic prediction, war continues today, as we can see in Iraq.
Since the human race invented weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, there has not been another world war.
From this perspective, Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula have a unique history in the 20th century. The region has gone through Japanese imperialistic aggression, World War II, the Cold War and the Korean War.
Substantial change came to the region as the international power dynamics changed after the disintegration of the Soviet Union and economic development of China. While the Soviet Union fell apart, Germany tore down the Berlin Wall and Europe began to expand the European Union.
But the Korean Peninsula and other Northeast Asian nations did not make much effort to alter the Cold War system until the leaders of the two Koreas met in June 2000.
Until the inter-Korea summit, the North and the South always worried that one day they would be attacked by the other. The summit was meaningful because it has alleviated the constant fear that remained in both Koreas despite the Cold War’s end.
Seoul and Pyeongyang agreed on a land lease contract of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex in Gaeseong, North Korea, on Tuesday. The agreement practically removed the last obstacle to the construction of the industrial complex in the North.
Amid the continued insurgency in Iraq, the agreement failed to garner much international attention. But let’s applaud efforts of the officials for successfully concluding such an important deal.
by Kim Seok-hwan
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.