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Should South and Korea Become One? Mending the Rift Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 17th, 2022

The confrontation between North Korea and South Korea has always been uncompromising and unequivocal. Despite the common name and the presence of a seemingly similar historical background, citizens of North Korea have a strikingly different philosophy and values to those of South Korea, and vice versa (Chang and Lee 246). Although presently, the confrontation between two states has been comparatively dormant, with mostly no military actions taken by either side (Chang and Lee 248).

Nonetheless, the hostility in the relationships between South Korea and North Korea, including both the governments and the citizens, remains in its place (Business Insider). The idea of addressing the conflict by promoting partnership and cooperation or, at the very least, some semblance of the dialogue, could be seen as sensible; however, given the relatively short time period between the latest military actions and the current point in time, as well as the deeper underlying cause of the conflict, uniting South Korea and North Korea will advance the confrontation rather than help in healing it.

Arguably, joining South Korea and North Korea together will help to promote communication and, therefore, lead to negotiations that are likely to result in some semblance of peace. Indeed, given the current advancement of both states in international politics, it is expected that both are interested in collaboration rather than conflict, at least from the economic perspective. For South Korea, the economic partnership will mean extra opportunities for the cheaper labor force and supplies, whereas, for North Korea, this partnership will open the door to international trade with Europe and the U.S. on a much broader scale (“South and North Korea Restore Hotline after a Year on Hold”). Therefore, negotiations are likely to lead to a reasonable assessment of the existing options and the acceptance of the necessity to compromise.

However, it is also highly probable that the forced union between North Korea and South Korea will exacerbate their disagreements to an even greater extent. Without any prior reconciliation and a well-thought-out, profoundly discussed agreement accepted by all parties, the tension between North Korea and South Korea is likely to build until it reaches its boiling point and results in another nationwide tragedy. Without the reconciliation of the key differences in their perspectives and perceptions, citizens of South Korea and North Korea will be unable to cooperate, not to mention become a single nation.

In turn, to address the collective national trauma that the citizens of both North Korea and South Korea have experienced as a result of their alienation, one will need to introduce a conversation on several levels, from an interpersonal to a governmental (“South and North Korea Restore Hotline after a Year on Hold”). On the former, cultural issues and the discrepancies in the worldviews can be addressed, whereas on the latter, legal and political incongruences between North Korea and South Korea will be addressed.

Furthermore, when promoting the union between South Korea and North Korea, one should locate immediate and effective ways of curbing the rates of guerilla movement, particularly, that one of North Korea. According to Kim et al., the specified issue has been one of the main factors keeping the confrontation between South Korea and North Korea alive: “Guerilla activity was expanding and they have sent about 800 organizers to the south” (9).

Although the described issue was a particularly prominent occurrence when North Korea was supported by the USSR, the current political situation, especially given the discord between Russia and the U.S., as well as Russia and Europe, along with the increasingly supportive interactions between Russia and North Korea, signify that guerilla movement is bound o take place even after the supposed union. Moreover, as the example above indicates, the current conflict between South and North Korea has been used by a range of other states to promote their agenda and further their causes.

Thus, even when united, South and North Korea will most likely be torn not only by inherent incompatibility and conflicts within them, but also by the colonialist politics of Russia and other countries involved (“South and North Korea Restore Hotline after a Year on Hold”). Therefore, promoting the union of South Korea and North Korea as the solution to the internal conflict without considering external political factors is, at best, unreasonable, and, at worst, pointless.

Therefore, uniting South Korea and North Korea as the means of managing the confrontation that has been taking place for years between the two states seems unreasonable. Instead of solving a deeper underlying issue, namely, that one of the conflicts in perceptions and cultures, the proposed solution represents a quick fix to a highly superficial problem of military actions and hostile attitudes taking place. Instead, the nature of the observed hostility and enmity must be studied so that a solution to the current conflict could be produced. Specifically, the problem of the collective trauma as the direct effect of the decades of alienation for South Korean and North Korean residents, as well as the weight of totalitarianism imposed on the latter, must be addressed to facilitate healthier relationships between the two states.

Indeed, examining the history of the South Korean and North Korean conflict, one will notice that there have been attempts at unification of South Korea and North Korea. However, due to the conflicting goals of the parties involved, the specified attempts did not produce any meaningful effect: “the two Korean governments shared a common goal, but it was an antagonistic one: to remove the other by any means available” (Kim et al. 356). Therefore, even the history of North Korea and South Korea tells that joining the two states forcefully will produce the exact opposite effect to the expected one. Namely, due to the lack of agreement in the political course of the further development, as well as incongruences in the philosophies and perception of reality, the governments of North Korea and South Korea, as well as their citizens, will be unable to coexist.

For the conflict between South Korea and North Korea to mend, forcing them together is unlikely to be of help; instead, it is expected to escalate the confrontation. Instead, promoting careful dialogue and taking time for the wounds to heal will allow establishing the dialogue that will help to resolve the situation. While on the surface, it might seem that the divide between South Korea and North Korea is defined by the difference in the government approaches to exerting their powers, the deeper cause of the conflict appears to lie in the incompatibility of the philosophies and the perception of reality, as well as relationships built in this reality, as it is seen by South Korea and North Korean citizens.

Therefore, joining the two countries that have been divided for years in a forced union is likely to cause even greater misunderstanding and escalate the conflict even further, whereas careful dialogue promoted as the basis for gradual reconciliation is expected to contribute to an improvement in the relationships between the states.

Works Cited

Business Insider. “YouTube uploaded by Business Insider, 2018. Web.

Chang, Kiyoung, and Choongkoo Lee. “North Korea and the East Asian Security order: competing views on What South Korea Ought to Do.” The Pacific Review, vol. 31, no. 2, 2018, pp. 245-255.

Kim, Kyuryoon. Global Expectations for Korean Unification: Research on Unification Costs and Benefits. Guidance Media, 2014.

The Guardian, 2021. Web.

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