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Bucharest
September 16, 2021
EDITORIAL

Seminar on the reunification of the Korean Peninsula

In the several decade old file on the reunification of the Korean Peninsula, the experts in international relations immediately noticed that, unlike his predecessors, China’s new president Xi Jinping did not make his first visit  in the capital of his decade-long ally Pyongyang , but in Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea (ROK)  on July 3-4, 2014 . It was an unprecedented situation since the two states established diplomatic relations in 1992. As the interest of Beijing in the evolutions of the Korean Peninsula was well known, this change of paradigm or diplomatic tradition could not avoid being interpreted as a signal that ample changes would probably follow in the file of reunification of the two Korean states.

Previously, in her state visit to Dresden, Germany, made at the end of March 2014, new ROK President Park Geun-hye launched, reconfirming and fine-tuning, her “bonanza” strategy regarding the reunification of the Korean states which, obviously, attracted once again the attention of the observers of the international political scene.

The launch of this strategy in Germany, a country that reunified over two decades ago, is symbolic to the entire Korean nation, both in the North and South of the peninsula, a symbol transmitted from the high position of the leader of the South-Korean state. Therefore, the peaceful reunification of the nation is possible and necessary, based on an identity that was shaped throughout many centuries, by an integrated social system and combining defence forces with fulfilling exigencies created by the complicated international situation of North-East Asia.

In this context, a seminar organized by the Republic of Korea Embassy to Bucharest and the Romanian Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 17, 2014           was the undoubted response to a visible interest of the Romanian public opinion regarding the reunification of the Korean Peninsula and the details of the strategy adopted by Seoul in order to carry it through.

ROK Ambassador to Bucharest, Hyo-Sung Park, outlined in his speech that opened the event, that “whether , when and how” are the questions that concern the  public opinion and political establishment in his country, regarding the evolution of the process of reunification of the two Korean states. The discussions held by experts from ROK and Romania attempted to give answers to these questions (as they are conceived in the reunification strategy launched by the president of the Republic of Korea) and to reveal some of Romania’s experience regarding the change of regime that occurred in 1989 – 1990. During many years after 1990, Romania had to confront the enormous economical, political and social issues that appeared as result of the ample process of transition to a multi-party political system and to a market economy from a totalitarian communist regime similar to the one in the Northern state of the Korean Peninsula.

 

Regarding the political aspects of the reunification of the Korean Peninsula, speeches were held by Dr. Namhoon Cho, senior researcher with Korean Institute for Reunification, and Dr. Alexandra Ionescu, professor of the Bucharest University. The presentation by the Korean expert explicitly showed that the peaceful reunification was the best solution and the unification by military force or the absorption of the other Peninsular state as a result of an unexpected collapse are counterproductive out of several reasons. Therefore, system evolution and gradual integration represent the right path to follow. Nonetheless, as historical evolutions are unpredictable, it must be noticed that responsible factors should be prepared for an eventual collapse of the Northern state and its prompt integration. Yet, the most important things to take into consideration are equality and liberty as common shared values, establishing an adequate report of political stability and the triumph of justice, based on a visionary and impartial reconciliation process. Yet, the intermediary stage needs careful analysis, so that optimum solutions must be identified, such as finding the proper option from either the direct unification of the state or adopting the intermediary formula of a federation (both scenarios are also valid in case military force is used). Recovering the political homogeneity of the nation is a process that includes difficulties, as the duplication or superposing of political institutions may generate frictions, contradictions, and thus, a series of delays.

Among the issues that require study, there are also the ones regarding the constitutional basis of the new united state, foreign alliances, the volume of systematically unified military capability, etc.

The Romanian experience in the political field of transition was modularly exposed on levels of action upon society, so that the innovation in the field of political regime change from Communist dictatorship in a dynastic form to Liberal society would be emphasised.

During the second part of the round table, dedicated to analysing economical aspects of the reunification of the Korean peninsula, speeches were held by Dr. Kyuryoon Kim ( Kida Institute, Seoul ) and Prof. Dr. Vasile Secares, Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies.

The former revealed that generational changes determine attitude changes regarding the objective of reunification. In South, younger generations consider that this target is strictly the duty of the government, while older generations are emotionally attached to this ideal. A pro-active attitude is highly needed in this field and a Peninsula-centred approach should be left behind by internationalizing the reunification and the sustainability and adequacy of adopted policies in this field.

In the professor’s opinion, the process of reunification requires a yet  undetermined preliminary period and the actual unification process is divided in stages of removing the existing division, systemic integration and a nation building process (in this order), that might last approximately two decades.

The reunification cannot ignore the international context, the relations existing among the great actors with regional interests (China, the USA, Russia) and it imposes also a process of selective cooptation of the North-Korean political and military elite.

In an extreme schematisation, reunification as a purpose may be achieved by assuring human security in a process carried through with good intention, based on the principles of goodness and effectiveness, creating a new peaceful structure  (nuclear free zone, market economy, democratic peace ) by a process of nation building in several stages.

Professor V. Secares outlined that the present international context, defined as a final stage of redefining the global strategic framework in a new global order create favourable conditions for applying a visionary strategy  of reunification of the Korean peninsula. Finally, finding a solution to the file of reunification of the Korean nation is an integrating part of the process of construction of a stabile and safe new world order that is taking place now.

Numerous experts attending the round table as part of the sessions of questions and answers, as well as by their advanced comments completed a successful scientific event dedicated to a hot subject of international relations.

Obviously, for the segment of international relations experts in Romania, the information regarding the complex file of Korean reunification reached a qualified consistence due to the course of this round table, as its level of scientific content was doubled by prospective exploring of the fascinating international scene of today.

 

 

 

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