Monday, March 3, 2014

Unification on Agenda as Leaders Meet in Seoul

A very timely article (for those who focus on Korea and NE Asia, not for those focusing on Ukraine and Russia of course).

It is time for the international community to come to the realization that the Kim Family Regime will not give up its nuclear weapons and that human rights atrocities will continue as long as the Kim Family Regime remains in control in north Korea.  

It has become time to take seriously the ROK's planning for unification and for the international community to support that planning (and all the necessary preparation).  Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard sums it up well:

Whether or not unification should go ahead is something only Koreans themselves can decide, Gillard posited, before pointing out that two key points stand out when predicting the regional implications of Korean reunification.  That is, the end of North Korea as a nuclear state and the termination of what can only be deemed  a “humanitarian tragedy.” With regard to the possibility of unification, she continued, the international community would be well-advised to “hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”  


Unification on Agenda as Leaders Meet in Seoul

Grace Smith
2014-03-03 20:38 
World leaders of past and present gathered today in Seoul for the 5th Asian Leadership Conference to discuss the myriad challenges currently facing the region.  Hosted by South Korean daily the Chosun Ilbo, the conference featured a lineup of movers and shakers from the Northeast Asian sphere, brought together to discuss  North Korea and prospects for unification under the theme of  “One Korea, New Asia.”

 “North Korea is the last frontier in the global economic system,” CEO of Chosun Ilbo Sang Hoon Bang noted in his opening address.  
President Park Geun Hye echoed Sang's sentiment, reaffirming her stance that unification would prove to be a “jackpot” for South Korea and the wider East Asian region.  “We must turn the peninsula into a land of hope,” she said.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush expressed his support for the “noble effort” of unifying the peninsula.  “This new, open dialogue on unification is a very positive development,” he said, but warned that that such a vision requires a great deal of patience.  Naturally, unification requires the will of both parties.  As such, its realization will largely depend on what extent Kim Jong Eun views unification as a potential gain.  “How deep is the propaganda in North Korea?” Bush concluded.  “How long will it take for that to wash out of the system?”
In a panel entitled “The Vision of ‘One Korea’: Search for a global architecture,” a number of prominent politicians provided their own personal take on the potential for a reunified Korea.

Although both nations were artificially divided, this is where the comparisons stop for Korea and Germany, former Prime Minister of the German Democratic Republic Lothar de Maiziere believes.  Prior to the events of 1989, there had been much doubt in Germany over whether or not the country would ever reunify, he explained.  “The Berlin Wall did not simply collapse. Rather, the people made it happen.  Unification was only possible due to the will of the East Germans themselves.”

Former Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard posed three questions to the audience.  Firstly, should unification occur? What would a unified peninsula mean for the region? And finally, what are the prospects of such an event occurring?  Whether or not unification should go ahead is something only Koreans themselves can decide, Gillard posited, before pointing out that two key points stand out when predicting the regional implications of Korean reunification.  That is, the end of North Korea as a nuclear state and the termination of what can only be deemed  a “humanitarian tragedy.” With regard to the possibility of unification, she continued, the international community would be well-advised to “hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”  “North Koreans have more to gain than to fear in joining the international community,” she concluded.

The formation of an East Asian community based on open regional cooperation is vital at this current juncture, former Prime Minister of Japan Yukio Hatoyama believes.  At the same time as expressing his regret that, “the South Korean government does not view Japan as important as other nations when it comes to its North Korea strategy,” Hatoyama confirmed his support for Park Geun Hye’s focus on trust-building with the North and her motion to establish a Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative.

Former United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta argued that the key to a unified Korea lies in strength; namely, strong bilateral relations with South Korea and China.  “We must not underestimate who we are dealing with.  North Korea is cruel, aggressive, uncertain and unpredictable, and they are pursuing aggressive steps throughout the region,” he warned.

Assessing the relationship between the United States and North Korea as one of a series of “provocation and accommodation,” he reaffirmed that the only way to confront such a regime is with displays of strength, including the continuation of joint military exercises. “It is important to show North Korea that the international community is unified in its approach toward it.  The best possible way to ensure such unity is through such strength,” he stated.

Any progress on the Korean peninsula will require “complete and verifiable denuclearization,” he further noted.  “North Korea must abide by international rules and regulations. Until then they can only be seen as a threat, an enemy and a potential attacker.”

South Korea’s Minister of Unification Ryoo Kihl Jae explained that the current administration’s approach to the North is “deductive” in that the goal has been set, and now they are working to achieve it.  “The two Koreas must establish a clear identity…one that encompasses a communal mindset,” he said, before adding, “The North must choose to become a fully-fledged member of the international community. They currently lie at the center of the Asian paradox.”

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