[OUTLOOK]Crisis may bring reunificationIt was noisy and chaotic outside. People panicked and said the North had exploded a nuclear bomb. I thought instinctively that we must run and hide somewhere. A short distance away, lights flashed and buildings melted. I thought it was already too late. I had been exposed to radioactivity and a nuclear storm would soon come. I was in despair. Then, I awoke. It was a nightmare.
On the evening of that day, my children asked in a worried tone, “Dad, what will happen now that the North has carried out a nuclear test? Will a war break out?” I became very upset with the North. Millions of innocent people were killed during the Korean War because of Kim Il Sung. Do we have to live in fear of another war? Because of whom? Because of the United States? It is North Korea that broke its promise to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Why do South Koreans need to be understanding about the North even at this moment? We need to say clearly that the problem is all because of the North and Kim Jong-il.
In South Korea, there is no voice of anger. Even the president is not angry. The governing Uri Party does nothing but empathize with the North’s position. Even China is using a determined voice. South Korea seems to be the only country unwilling to do so. Its reasons are, “We need to leave open a channel for dialogue,” and, “A war should be avoided.”
I no longer buy these claims. We have endured for too long, under the policy of engaging the North, or the Sunshine Policy. We have made too many concessions. We have provided too much aid. The money we funneled into the North has returned as a nuclear bomb. If this trend persists, South Korea is unlikely to change even if hit by a nuclear bomb. South Korean political leaders would say, “Let’s surrender to survive.”
North Koreans who emphasize the same nationality between South and North Koreans are trying to destroy their fellow nationals. Some South Korean leaders say, “Why would the North use the bomb to kill us? It is only for self-defense.” This is a very stupid thing to say. There is no nuclear bomb used for the purpose of defense. Why can’t those politicians call an evil an evil? Why don’t they get angry when they should? They should say to the North,“You need to pay the price for your wrongdoing.”
If war is inevitable, so be it. When we are afraid of war, we become the hostage of our enemy. We can deter war only when we are prepared to risk war. A nuclear weapon can only be deterred by a nuclear weapon. This is a balance based on fear. Some maintain that there has been no major war since World War II mainly because the superpowers are armed with nuclear devices. If war broke out, all would die. The United States guaranteed to provide us with a nuclear umbrella. The North’s nuclear bomb then loses its power as a weapon.
At the end of the night, dawn breaks. North Korea chose to enter its darkest night. The end of darkness is the beginning of reunification, not because of the Sunshine Policy but because of the North’s nukes. This is a paradox. But it is not within our capability. The North’s nuclear issue is not an issue between South and North Korea but an issue of international society. While engaging the North and following the Sunshine Policy, the issue is out of our control.
The UN sanctions will press North Korea. Sanctions on luxury goods are aimed at the collapse of Kim Jong-il’s leadership. Drastic changes might occur inside the regime.
We should work even harder to widen the economic gap between South and North Korea. South Korea’s economy is 30 times larger than that of the North but that is not enough. We should make it 50 times, or 100 times larger. North Korea will then have to cease existing, having invested all in its nuclear arms. If North Korea returns to the negotiating table, failing to overcome sanctions, that would be even better. International society would work together to help North Korea. If so, South Korea’s burden would be reduced. North Korea will have no choice but to open up its doors. That might bring peace and coexistence on the Korean Peninsula. Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s regime collapsed right after Romania opened its doors. Either way, reunification will take place.
We should now prepare for reunification. If we try to go nuclear, the world will turn its back on us, in fear of proliferation. Thus, under the protection of a U.S. nuclear umbrella, we should persuade China, Japan and Russia that reunification and integration of the North into South Korea are needed. Diplomacy in its truest sense is needed more than ever. Blind diplomacy favoring the North will isolate South Korea in international society. Can South Korea survive for even one day if isolated? South Korea should faithfully join in implementing international sanctions on the North. The North’s nuclear crisis is a chance to bring reunification.
* The writer is the chief editor of the editorial page of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Moon Chang-keuk