Saturday, August 28, 2021

President Moon's Dream of Peace on the Peninsula

Next year in March will be President Moon's last day in office. This year on August 15 he gave his last Liberation Day speech and in one sentence: "I have a dream"— Individuals have dreams, but countries also have dreams. We achieved independence because we didn't give up our dream for independence. Korea has become an advanced country because it has achieved its dream of living well. "A country where culture blooms," dreamed a patriot and today has becoming a cultural powerhouse.  So begins the Diagnosis of the Times column in the Catholic Peace Weekly by a Far East Asia research member.

In particular, there are dreams that do not change. One such dream is of peace and unification on the Korean Peninsula. We need to work towards this dream. There are cases of the reunification of East and West Germany, but we want to create a model for the Korean Peninsula. The main point was the message to keep the dream of peace and reunification on the Korean Peninsula before us at all times.

The current inter-Korean relationship seems to be increasingly distant from these dreams. Other dreams have come true to some extent, but if we fail to advance our dreams of peace and unification, can we say that we are satisfied and happy? And can we look forward with pride to the next generations?

While North Korea has recently criticized the South Korea-U.S. joint drills, a broadcasting company investigated the unification consciousness of the citizens of South Korea on the occasion of Liberation Day.  

According to the survey, 71.4 percent of the respondents said they felt antipathy toward North Korea. In particular, 38.8 percent of respondents said they felt "very hostile" this continued to increase over the past three years. Interest in unification was also found to be 67.5 percent, the lowest among surveys in the past three years.

On vaccine support for North Korea: 67 percent of the respondents said that it should be supported after achieving collective immunity in the South, followed by "not to support" with 19.1 percent. However, the fortunate thing is that 65.2 percent of the respondents responded positively to the need for unification even though they do not like North Korea. Two out of three respondents recognize the need for unification.

Inter-Korean relations are more serious than ever. In a statement released on the 11th, the director of the Central Committee of the North Korean Workers' Party, aimed his talk at the South Korea-US drills: "(South Korea) blew away an opportunity to improve inter-Korean relations with their own hands and we need to be honest about the price of responding to our good intentions with hostility. You have to let them know,” he said. "Restoring the inter-Korean communication line after 13 months gave the South an 'opportunity to choose', a way of making for a better relationship with North Korea but they chose to conduct South Korea-US drills instead of improving inter-Korean relations."

North Korea's threatening remarks have been numerous before, but what is bitter is that there is no hope of restoring inter-Korean relations in the short term of President Moon's administration, which has put more effort into inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation than any other regime.  North Korea made the difficult decision to restore the inter-Korean communication line in its own way and demanded corresponding measures to suspend the ROK-US military exercise, but in the end, it expressed strong regret for President Moon Jae-in, who failed to do so.
The core of North Korea's request is to engage in active national cooperation and strong independent diplomacy in relation to inter-Korean relations. No matter how difficult it is economically, this principled position and demand from the North Korean side will be maintained for a considerable period of time. Something structurally and fundamentally feels amiss in the inter-Korean relations. Indeed, if the entire Korean people do not come to a new agreement and resolve, it seems highly likely that peaceful reunification will simply be idle daydreaming.

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