History never endsAs I was looking at the Great Wall of China in 1985, I thought to myself, “Why did China ever build this thing?” After I saw Yeon Gaesomun depicted as evil in a traditional Chinese opera, I realized how intimidated the Chinese were by the Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C. to A.D. 668). I was a former platoon leader of the South Korean Army who fought against the Chinese Communist forces during the 1950-53 Korean War, and from 1986, I visited China and conversed with the greatest Chinese leaders to bring peace and prosperity to China.
The great leader Deng Xiaoping became the world’s symbol of hope through his open door policy. The 15 years following the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1992 between South Korea and China were the heydays of the two countries’ friendship. But things have changed now. Chinese President Xi Jinping seems to think of Deng as a dead man. But I think Deng’s ideology and spirit live on. The spirit of freedom and justice will not die. One day, it will be embodied as the spirit of creativity and creation. This is the true nature of history.
Now, I am just looking at the flow of history as if sitting on a riverbank where my 15 best golden years flew by. Nevertheless, I believe we must keep friendly diplomatic ties with China and seek to prosper together. I did my best searching for ways of economic co-prosperity in the private sector as I engaged with North Korea for 10 years from 1992, with China for 20 years from 1985 and with Russia for 30 years from 1989. I personally lost more than I gained. But I have no regrets.
History never ends — it will only flow stronger in the future. As the new flow continues, the principle of creation based on freedom and justice will pave the way for peace and prosperity in the region. Even during the dictatorships of Hitler and Stalin, northern European countries such as Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway managed to maintain independence. Today, they have grown into mightily independent nations. Our country, too, can walk the path of mutual respect, cooperation and prosperity while keeping our sovereignty in Northeast Asia.
It all depends on our realization. In order not to make any misjudgments, we must understand the concepts of China’s current political identity — Sinocentrism, national socialism, totalitarianism, the “China Dream,” a community of common destiny and the Belt and Road initiative — and how they are different from our system and identity. Let’s face reality by looking back at history. Antipatriotic toadyism toward China and the “China Dream virus” are all headed our way. If both Koreas can effectively deal with the intruders together, we can find a path toward a peaceful reunification.