Unification step-by-stepThe division of the Korean Peninsula is still painful. First of all, a people with the same blood and language are split into two, growling at each other in normal times and exchanging fatal blows in times of crisis. At the same time, the North, which enjoys confronting the entire world as a renegade from the international community, is also a giant burden on us.
Therefore, our ultimate goal is to become a unified nation through sincere reconciliation and establish a permanent peace on the peninsula. Our society, however, is still mired in bitter disagreements over how to realize that cherished dream. If we really want to see a peacefully unified fatherland, we should first overcome the schizophrenic discord we are afflicted by on the subject of unification.
The Korea Forum for Peace, Prosperity and Unification, sponsored by the JoongAng Ilbo Unification Research Institute, was launched on Monday and it aims to achieve that goal. At the forum (entitled “A Major Turning Point: Where Do We Go from Here?”), Lee Hong-koo, a former prime minister and an advisor to the forum, said: “Only when the conservatives urge the government to have a dialogue with the North and the liberals criticize the dire human-rights situation and the hereditary power succession in the North can we have a truly effective discussion on the unification issue.” Another panelist, Ha Young-sun, a professor of diplomacy at Seoul National University, argued: “In order to induce the North to change, we, too, should change. We must take the lead in creating an environment that would help the North to feel at ease in following a reform track.”
In fact, the JoongAng Ilbo has been at the forefront of a campaign to get closer to our most cherished goal. In 2003, it received a very positive response from the public by presenting a national agenda calling for one-percent of the government budget to be devoted to aid to the North for the future. The Unification Research Institute under the umbrella of the JoongAng Ilbo was also part of those efforts. Since it was established in 1972, the institute has created opportunities to visit the North, including a cultural heritage tour.
With the North undergoing a third-generation power succession and with China emerging as a G-2 country, the Korean Peninsula faces a critical turning point. With this in mind, the JoongAng Ilbo hopes to build momentum by launching the Korea Forum for Peace, Prosperity and Unification. We are looking forward to welcoming our readers’ support for our cause.