Korea: a shared desire for reunification?
Published on 05/13/2018
Published on 05/13/2018
Several days before the historic meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas on April 27, Edgar Bellow, professor of international management and geopolitics at NEOMA BS presented us with his perspective on the willingness for reunification shown by the two Koreas.
“After two years of mounting tensions linked to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, since the start of the year the Korean peninsula has been the remarkable setting for a cool down in said tensions, as seen in the call on April 27, 2018 for an exceptional summit between Kim Jong-Un and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in.
How can we understand and analyse the reversal in the North Korean leader’s trajectory by calling for dialogue with the United States for a denuclearisation of the peninsula? We must remember that from his rise to the country’s leadership role after the death of his father, Kim Jong-Un, several missile launches and nuclear tests took place. In the bout of name calling with the American president, Kim Jong-Un caused a great deal of stress among the South Korean population, his neighbours China and Japan, as well as their leaders. A new war such as the one from June 25, 1950, would destroy the entire peninsula and affect China, Japan and a part of Russia because the weapons used in such a war would be weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons.
Due to the show of force on the part of Kim Jong-Un, North Korea saw increased economic sanctions against it voted into effect by the United Nations. The latest was the stoppage and closure placed on the Kaesong complex, which would generate millions of dollars each year, a once financial windfall that the North Korean regime used to finance its missile production and testing.
Sitting at the negotiation table with the U.S. to organise the end of the Korean conflict was the greatest wish of the founding father of North Korea, Kim II-sung. Since the end of the Korean War until now there has been no signing of an armistice or peace between the U.S. and North Korea, with the latter always believing that it represented all the Korean people. Accordingly, the United States is only an occupier of the southern territory.
At the same time as he built and developed his defences for a possible war to liberate the peninsula’s southern territory, the founding father of North Korea, Kim II-sung, also constructed a powerful ideology to control and keep the North Korean people in state of total repression and starvation. This hinges on the Juche ideology, which is a doctrine that takes communist ideas that extol a classless society, while also placeing importance on the principle of political independence, economic self-reliance and military autonomy.
The purpose of the Juche ideology is to reunify with South Korea. According to the official statement of North Korea: ‘the ideological and theoretical promise of Juche ideas reside in Marxist-Leninist aspiration and ideology’.
However, the Juche ideology constitutes ‘a new, original revolutionary ideology.’ Kim II-sung, who saw the historical limits of Marxism-Leninism, ‘discovers the new principles of the revolution’ and ‘forms the core of the Juche ideas, revolutionary ideas of sovereignty’.
In 1980, the Worker’s Party of Korea revised its charter to replace Marxist-Leninist concepts with those of Kim II-sung. I will say that it was a Promethean attempt. From then on Kim II-sung became father of the nation, and a new culture, new form of education, new motivations and new sovereignty were to be constructed. It’s the installation of the Kim Dynasty that today has brought about the existence of three different generations in the North and in the South.
In understanding the geopolitics of Korea, the world must first take into account the impact of Juche ideology, before understanding the emergence of three co-habiting generations and their interests in the peninsula’s reunification process.
President Moon Jae-In of South Korea’s second generation will meet President Kim Jong-Un of North Korea’s third generation, who perfectly embodies his grandfather’s ideology. On April 27, if the two presidents do not speak of peaceful reunification, there will be no denuclearisation on the peninsula. The driving force of North Korea and the Juche ideology is the reunification of Korea because there is only one Korea. After a brutal occupation by Japan from 1905 to 1945, Marxism-Leninism divided the Korea Peninsula in two, symbolised today by the 38th parallel in the demilitarised zone at Panmunjom.
The foundation of Korea’s geopolitics resides in Kim II-sung’s Juche ideology, applied to the letter by Kim Jong Un, and in the intergenerational functioning of the desire to reunify the two Koreas.
After the inter-Korean meeting, all eyes will be on the summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jung-Un. Japan and Russia have also shown the desire to meet the North Korean missile man. If Korea is not reunified, as was the case for East and West Germany before 1990, the area will remain a Peninsula of Fear where the American presence will continue to unsettle North Korea and China, in a global geopolitical situation where nuclear tests and ballistic missiles will continue to threaten the world.”