Saturday, December 7, 2013

Difficulty Working for the Unification of Korea

A university professor, in the Peace Weekly column Diagnosis of Current Events, recalls the  Cuban exodus of 1980. Hector Sanyustiz, with three other Cubans, made a forced entrance to Peru's embassy, asking for asylum, which was granted. The Cuban government demanded they be returned but the embassy refused. Soon after, as the word spread, 750 more Cubans rushed to the embassy, asking for asylum, and after Easter of that year an estimated 10,000 Cubans went to the embassy, asking for asylum. Fidel Castro sent more soldiers to the embassy, but it was too late to change the situation.

Seeing that nothing could be done, Castro responded with a bombshell declaration: "All who want to leave Cuban may do so; the Mariel Harbor will be open." Over 12,500 left Cuba in 1700 boats for asylum in the United States. A movie, Scarface, was made in 1983, depicting the  refugees' search for the American Dream.

The columnist, recalling the incident, does not see it as someone else's problem. North Korea continues to  suffer from economic difficulties and forecasting the political future of the country  is impossible. There is no ocean teeming with sharks that separate us, he said, nor do we have a language problem.  But if there is a sudden change in the current stalemate between the North and South, will we be prepared for it?

The exodus is not something that will begin in the future; it has already begun, he said. There are now 25,000 refugees from the North living in the South. In China, there are over 50,000.  In the South, many refugees find it difficult to adapt not so much because of the democratic politics or  the capitalistic system but because of the unseen  prejudice and coldness of the South Koreans.

We are not prepared to help these refugees, says the columnist, because we do not want to prepare for unification. The unfriendly attitude of South Koreans can probably be deduced, he suggests, from the declining number of North Koreans who have come to the South since 2009. The columnist wonders whether the materialistic way of the so-called good life in the South and the coldness the refugees experienced here had spread among the Northerners back home. 

More than the North Korean refugees' idea of the "Korean Dream" has disappeared; the desire for unification has also cooled. In a recent survey, it was found that the younger the citizens are in the South, the more they do not see a need for unification. Of those in their 20s, one of three would have this same viewpoint. They also do not remember any songs that support the unification of the country or have they heard any discussion on unification.

 A greater problem, says the columnist, is the lack of the government's commitment to pursue unification. Those who show an interest are labeled as followers of the North, an additional roadblock to unification. In conclusion, the columnist compares us--those who desire unification--to those in King David's time who were looking forward to the Messiah. We also are looking forward to the day when we will live together in peace, one Korean people on one peninsula, in one country. Are we, he asks, working together for that to happen?

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