A peace campaign with misguided confidence
While promoting peace in the heavily militarized Korean Peninsula usually invites appreciation, Ms. Steinem, the activist in charge of the peace campaign, has puzzled some, at least those in South Korea. Proposing long-term peace building with “the full involvement of women” as she enunciates her “goal,” baffles many as such a motive only highlights the notable feminist’s tilted approach to discuss peace.
In defense of Ms. Steinem’s trip intended to awaken or reach out to a larger North Korean population, her advocates may endorse the cause, contending that when stimulated or encouraged, the will of the people - more often than the change from the top - will contribute to ushering in a unified Korea.
People’s will matters. However, the more than a decade-long Kim dynasties which still command a tight grip on power in North Korea demonstrate otherwise. Further, the will of the people generates meaningful change when communicated. Considering North Korea’s sly reception of the crossing and scarce media coverage on the march even in South Korea, such communication, let alone enlightenment, also remains highly unlikely.
Civil society’s role in a unified Korea differs from those of the government. National as well as international efforts should receive support in carrying out their objectives. However, if such endeavors invite fragmented - divided at best - public opinion, the organization should review its program of campaign rather than pushing ahead with misguided confidence.
by Choi Si-young Former Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Yonsei International Affairs Review at Yonsei University