Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sometimes I do...

As you might imagine, I've had my eye on the situation in N. Korea and Hanguk in the South. All joking aside, I can't really add any additional insights to what's already been written and said in special reports, speculations, images and news analysis of N. Korea's situation current and past.

I will say, from the time I spent in S. Korea, what I know of the general attitudes of South Koreans toward the divided peninsula. The younger generation of S. Koreans - the ones who are facing their compulsory two years in the military - are afraid of armed conflict. They want peace at all costs. Perhaps this is because their lifestyle, compared to that of their parents, grandparents and great grandparents, is very cushy, very wealthy, very "first world." Perhaps they've become complacent, as it seems many Americans have, taking for granted many things and freedoms that were hard-fought and won. Or perhaps they are tired of the shadow of war constantly hanging over them and their future generations, which is easy to understand, given that the Korean War never actually ended - they are still technically at war with N. Korea with a 50+ year cease fire in effect.

Many of the parents of these younger generations, in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, fear reunification with N. Korea, because they believe it would destabilize the wealthy economy of the South. Paying for rebuilding the North's infrastructure, feeding everyone, and absorbing the millions who would need jobs would be extremely costly to the South. Among this age group, there is a feeling that Reunification would have to be very carefully structured on a gradual basis, if it is to happen at all.

The grandparents and anyone left alive who remembers the War first-hand and the times that came before that want nothing more than for the two Koreas to be reunified as one country. They are one people, with one culture and one language. Korea has always been homogeneous in this respect, with a very proud history, albeit one littered with repeated, harsh colonizations by the Japanese Empire. This dream of Reunification is idealistic, perhaps not realistic, and it is dying out as these older generations do.

Now with Kim Jong Il's son Kim Jong Un in power, his young governing hand guided heavily by his uncle, military leader Jang Song Taek, the world waits and hopes that something can be done with the isolationist nuclear power to draw them into the international community. Will Reunification happen? Can it happen? Perhaps it is N. Korea's only hope, or perhaps it is a pipe dream at this point. I will be following these events closely in the coming months and year, for sure, and will occasionally drop a Waegukin's perspective.

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