[Letters] Envy of a wall in ruins
Twenty years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and world leaders gathered to remember the historical moment. The end of the wall symbolized harmony and peace, and it means a lot especially when it comes to a still-divided Korea.
Of course, Germany still has a long way to go to perfect unification. The economic gap between the two regions still prevails, although it is getting smaller. Young generations are moving to the West for job opportunities. Some have nostalgia for the prosperous socialist state. Despite that, no one can deny that unification was worth it.
What about Korea? Twenty years after Germany again stood up as one of the strongest powers of the world, Korea is still divided. The situation is getting worse; the South is getting richer, while the North is getting more desperate day after day. Although there have also been so many changes between the two Koreas, like the Kaesong Industrial Park and reunions of separated families, the recent exchange of fire alerts us that reality is not so easy. In particular, the role of the South is not as big as it should be concerning the peace of Northeast Asia. Because the South must pursue its interests via cooperation with the world while maintaining sound relations with our brethren, it is isolating itself even more. The world demands aggressiveness, while Koreans demand hospitality.
I personally think a stronger policy is needed. But that’s only my opinion, and the reality is far more complicated. South Korea’s idea of carrots and sticks is still somewhat weak. This is prolonging division, which enlarges the burden for unification. Let’s look at carrots; China’s influence is growing in North Korea day by day, which means we are losing our impact on the North. South Korea is providing much less aid than China, but acts as if it saved Kim’s empire. What about sticks? I see no aggressiveness in the South Korean government. North Korea is still trespassing at the NLL. Lee’s regime pretends to be reasonable and generous by struggling to encompass both hawks and doves. But what did it actually do? Nothing has changed.
I am not advocating either side. What I am saying is that we must act. We must choose our way and implement it. It took Germany, the strongest power of Europe, that much effort for unification and it will take a fortune in the future.
Kang Yoon Seung, student, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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