North and South Korean Border

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North and South Korea are two countries that have been in conflict since 1945; however, the seeds to this rift were planted years before in 1910 when the entire area was annexed by Japan (Millett et al., p. 93). At this time, there was resistance and many radical and nationalist groups were formed. After Korea regained its independence, many of the officials were accused of being in cahoots with the Japanese. This led to a bloody struggle between different factions and political leaders. At the end of the world war, the United States occupied the south of Korea, while the Russians remained in the North. The division of these two powers by the US would trigger the civil war in 1950 (Lavelle, par. 5). The conflict is now less intense, but the countries remain separated with contrasting ideologies. This has been a major topic in international relations with many scholars debating whether the two countries should reunite. In 2018, Kim Jong Un was the first leader to enter South Korea (Dudden et al., 2018). Many analysts began discussing the possibility of unification, while others were skeptic and raised the concerns about the villainous past of Kim Jong. There are numerous factors that show that peaceful coexistence instead of reunification is the best path for these two countries. Firstly, peaceful coexistence will lead to equally satisfactory results, with less opposition and resistance than reunification. In this aspect, the first intervention that can be implemented is free trade. This will facilitate the gradual process towards reconciliation as significant historical and current cultural differences have developed over the years the countries were separated. The Sunshine policy, which was banned by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, showed positive signs of growth and development between the two nations (Moon, n.p). A survey that was conducted by the BBC found that 91 percent of South Koreans had a negative view of North Koreans (Dudden et al., 2018).

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However, this was found to be exaggerated as another survey was done by the government and showed that approximately 57.8 percent of the participants felt that the two nations should work together and collaborate. Hence, this shows there is already public support towards forming ties, and taking this step forward first is necessary before reuniting the two countries. As illustrated above, during the decades as separate countries, different cultural and ideological differences have developed between the countries. In fact, the division occurred because of influence by two countries with opposing ideologies, which were then championed and by the leaders. Ka-Yeon, a North Korean who fled the crippling poverty in her hometown and moved to South Korea stated I used to think we were all one people with the same language and lots in common. That’s why I left North Korea. But then I realized that everything is different here (Schmidtt, par. 1). Hence, regardless of any similarities that exist in their history and language, the two countries are now completely different in their culture and mindset, which will make it difficult for them to reunite. In fact, making this decision now may negatively impact the ability of the countries to work together in the near future. In addition to the different culture between the two countries, reunification will affect the relationship with allies of both nations. For example, South Korea has strong ties to the United States and has a more liberal, capitalistic approach (Heo and Roehring, n.p). On the other hand, the North Koreans are conservative and use a socialist ideology for their leadership. Specifically, for South Korea, their current system aligns with their main ally, the United States. However, China, North Korea, and Russia who are the closest allies to North Korea, are not close to the U.S. and would not be open to hosting American troops. These superpowers play an important role in the global status of North and South Korea as their division has served their interests for over 3 decades (Heo and Roehring, n.p).

For example, North Korea has been a good buffer between Russia and China, and South Korea between the liberal and democratic western countries. Following the Cold War, ideological differences have been a factor among the superpowers as these persist in a tactical and subtler manner. Therefore, these countries serve an important role in global geopolitics, and their union may have broader implications. North and South Korea may both prosper without reunifying and can achieve all their goals by developing peaceful relations. Sacrificing their ideologies may compromise the relationship and success of the new country. For instance, South Korea currently has a more successful economy than North Korea (Collins et al., p. 53). However, China has achieved tremendous economic growth without adopting a democratic and capitalist model. Therefore, North Korea may adopt a similar strategy without compromising its core principles. This will also open the market of the neighboring countries without jeopardizing relations with either country. This will also open up the doors for North Korea to experience the economic turnaround that has been enjoyed by South Korea, China, and Japan. One factor that has been considered in relation to reunifying North and South Korea is the security risk that exists from North Korea. The country is a nuclear power and many nations have expressed concern over the volatility of the leadership (North and South Korea begin removing mines along DMZ, par. 2). The global community holds the assumption that reuniting would neutralize North Korea and take away its nuclear power. However, this is not the case as it is unlikely that Kim Jung would give up the ideals of his country. Historically, when the divide occurred between the two nations and there were elections, both leaders felt that they ruled the entire peninsula.

Therefore, suggesting that the two nations reunite will raise unnecessary tensions and conflict over which entity will have the most authority. Furthermore, during the summit between South and North Korea that resulted in the signing of the era of no war’ Kim Jung stated that the world will see how a divided nation will bring a new future on its own. This shows that there will be challenges in pushing the two nations towards a unified border. Another point worth mentioning is that despite the lack of unified borders, the two nations have already mentioned that they will submit a joint bid for hosting the summer Olympics of 2032, and also create a road and railway that connects South and North Korea within a year (Berlinger and Seo, 2018). There were also some issues with the military drills that were conducted by North Korea, and the two leaders were agreed to stop military drills that were targeted at one another as they resulted in tension. There are also steps intended to remove the guard posts in the demilitarized zone by the end of the year (Berlinger and Seo, 2018). Therefore, this shows that reunifying the border is unnecessary for relations and progress by both parties. Understanding the history of conflict between South and North Korea also shows why the two countries should not reunify their borders. Lavelle showed that historically conflict has continued to occur over several factors that may not be possible to resolve or comprise to form one country (par. 16). For example, in 2010 there were disputes over the maritime border that resulted in the death of two South Korean citizens and marines. This led to South Korea responding in firing back with fighter jets. There were also drones belonging to North Korea that were caught capturing footage of government buildings. There has also been propaganda by both nations regarding the DMZ zone. Therefore, the conflict shows that the major disagreements between North and South Korea can be resolved through better political relations. There are no additional gains from reunifying the borders. One of the reasons that were raised for North and South Korea reuniting is that there are families that are living on both sides.

Several reports have been presented on showing emotional pictures of families seeing each other after many years (MacDonald, n.p). However, this is not necessary for bringing families together as the steps towards this process has been made. There are already plans to loosen the restraints at the border and also building transportation that brings the two countries together. This is different to the process of reuniting the border as this would not be restricted to families. The approach will bring different people and cultures together, who have different ideologies and views and may clash in the process. Therefore, there is a need for gradual steps that start with reconciliation. Once North Korea becomes more economically stable and improves relations with other countries, the need for reuniting may be reconsidered. At the moment, the negotiators should determine ways to strengthen the relationship between both parties and facilitate their prosperity. According to the former leader of South Korea, Park Geun-Hye, the challenges that exist in creating a united boarder is that North Korea continues to be a growing missile and nuclear threat (MacDonald, n.p). Therefore, this may present challenges to the United States and other interested parties as they require countermeasures to mitigate this threat. At the time when Seoul was eagerly pursuing a unified front, there were concerns raised by the United States. There is also uncertain support from other superpowers such as China. However, Beijing may have a preference for the current events rather than having a united Korea that has the backing of the United States and is militarily competent. As a former communist state, Russia may also share the same concerns as the Chinese. In summation, there are several reasons why North and South Korea should reunify their borders. Firstly, there is a need for reconciliation between the two countries and the sustenance of trade and peace. This will allow the improvement of the North Korean economy and the communities to collaborate. Studies show that the majority of Koreans believe that the countries should collaborate and work together. Hence, this should be the main objective, and reuniting is not necessary at present. The cultures and ideologies of the countries have differed, and union may negatively impact relations with allies.

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North and South Korean Border. (2020, Apr 07). Retrieved December 3, 2022 , from
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