Saturday, September 19, 2015

Can North and South Korea Live in Harmony?

We all wonder what the chances are for unification of the country. 70 years have passed, and we are no closer to a meeting of minds or seeking opportunities to talk. In the Catholic Times, a columnist who writes about  reconciliation of the country asks is it possible.

She introduces us to one of her relatives who she admires a great deal and with whom she can  speak without reservations on any topic. The person is very sensitive to abuses in society, and doesn't hesitate to talk about the injustices that abound. This quality in her relationship has always attracted her. However, recently, the person said something to her that was very much unlike what she  understood the person to be. "I am not looking forward to unification" she remarked. The columnist hearing these words were like getting punched in the stomach. She has never talked about unification with the person which was a reason for surprise and disappointment. 
Her relative  was in the early forties and the reason given for the  opinion: no knowledge of those in the North. "I don't know people in the North and consequently, to live in harmony with them will not be  easy.  It will double and triple the conflicts  we have in society and divide the country more than it is at present." Contact with the refugees in the South from the North is well known; many are not interested in getting to know them. Her relative confessed (?) that she understands  with her head the refugees from the North, but she is not inclined in her heart to get close to them.

The columnist respected the honesty and courage with which her relative  approached the subject of  North and South; it did not in any way diminish the respect she had for the relative. This way of thinking is well-known in the South. "Unification must be realized" all subscribe to this but when they reflect on the reality many express serious concerns: economic difficulties and culturally the country will be in chaos and unstable.

In the beginning, we saw the  open hand and warm greeting, compassion, curiosity, words of encouragement  but with the increase of numbers and hearing about some of the shameful things done, many began to  distance themselves from the refugees. Those from the North also do not know the ways of the South, and  wonder whether they will be able to live in harmony together.

Both sides have the same worry. With unification will we have harmony? Will it not be wise then to get rid of all our worries anticipating reunion? Is it not necessary to understand that with 70 years of separation the North will  be different from the South?  We need to accept these differences of the North and see them in a positive way. We have to change our thinking and not see what is different as wrong.  We need to rid ourselves of our feelings of superiority, and  see the North  as our brothers and sisters and start making efforts to know them.

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