Re-Unification of North and South Korea

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The history of Korea can be traced back thousands of years, with Korea having had many and varied master, both from within and outside Korea. Only in recent times though, has Korea been divided as a nation. During World War II, Korean independence fighters formed a Provisional Government is anticipation of the defeat of the Japanese Empire, but it was never implemented. Rather, the Korean Peninsula was divided at the 38th Parallel of latitude with the Russians forming a Communist regime to the North and the United States (U.S) creating a rightist pro-Washington government in South Korea, or the Republic of Korea (ROK). Ideological differences between the isolationist Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the North and the pro-western ROK in the South left to a major war in the 1950’s which never formally ended, but remains to this day in a stale mate condition of cease fire. With the background given above and the scenarios put forth in this paper, a clear argument in favour of peaceful re-Unification will be established. Through process of elimination, peaceful re-unification will be proven to be not only the most likely scenario but also the most achievable.

Five decades have passes and enmity continues to run deep between the North and South in general, and the DPRK and the U.S in particular, hardening the partition of the Korean Peninsula. Militarily, the Korean Peninsula is home to almost two million troops, ballistic missiles, chemical weapons and actual nuclear capabilities. Ideological, social, and economic differences are so extreme that re-unification appears very remote. While the Korean Peninsula seems ‘frozen in time’, internal changes in the North could ultimately force a fundamental transformation of the Peninsula (Pollack & Chung, 1999: 1). North Korea’s vulnerability increases as its past alliances with Russia and China diminish. “North Korea’s defining imperative is no longer to present itself as an alternative model for Korean unification, but to arrest its internal decline and avoid extinction as a political, economic, and social system’ (Pollack & Chung, 1999:1). Many scenarios have been presented over the years, but all have severe limitation as to their implementation. Before these scenarios are presented, and overview of the DPRK will set the scene of how the Korean War came to be. The DPRK is among the world’s most impenetrable regimes where controls over life, press and travel make it virtually impossible to attain a balanced view. The creator, Kim Il Sung, surrounded himself with comrades and only relinquished power upon his death in 1994. Because the DPRK formed during the period of maximum Soviet influence, the party had a structure ‘typically associated with Marxist-Leninist regimes’ (Cumings, 1995: 52). A strong, highly organised party with a ‘centralised top-down administration of large bureaucracies’ (Norland, 2000). As well as an economy where goods and services were rationed and allocated, rather than by using the principles of a market driven economy. This structure was ‘building socialism toward a distant final transition to communism’ (Cumings, 1995: 52). With the above information in mind, the scenarios presented below show both virtuous and destructive approaches to successful re-unification.

The ideal scenario for re-unification is through peaceful integration, which is the current South Korean government’s doctrine towards North Korea, and is known as the Sunshine Policy (Pollack & Chung, 1999:1). This scenario sees increasing economic and social interactions followed ultimately by political interaction between North and South governments (Pollack & Chung, 1999:1). This scenario would require specific policy and operation mechanisms designed and implemented by the ROK, the United Nations, and the super powers of Russia, China and the U.S. These policies and mechanisms would then need to be accepted by the Government and the people of North Korea. This idealistic and...
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