[imText1]What we know as the two Koreas today had shared their fate together for thousands of years as one nation. It was divided into two parts, the South and the North, at the end of the World War II.
North Korea became a member of the socialist bloc led by the former Soviet Union and South Korea became a member of democracy by the US. The division pitted the two Koreas against each other. As a result, there is a world of difference between South Korea and North Korea. North Korea has become a living hell, riddled with starvation, poverty and human rights violations while South Korea has enjoyed democracy.
The contrasting results of the two Koreas show the difference between the democratic form of government and anti-democratic governance. It provides a significant lesson not only for the Koreans but also the people all around the world, and for this reason, the Korean issues should be studied from an international point of view. The Korean peninsula makes an important contribution to the world because of its direct experiences with both totalitarianism and democracy at the same time.
After the Cold War, the victors gave up fighting against dictatorship
The World War II was won by the democratic allies. More significant in terms of human history, however, is the free world’s victory in the Cold War against the socialist bloc led by the former Soviet Union. Unlike the previous struggles between the democratic and the anti-democratic powers, the Cold War ended without precipitating a hot war. In other words, the fact that the Cold War was won without firing a shot makes it a great historical event.
However, there are signs of complacency and self-satisfaction brought on by the victory. We can see this phenomenon around the world as well as in South Korea, and the situation is reaching a dangerous level.
Internationally, politicians and intellectuals of the victorious countries including the U.S. have started to think that the free world of democratic system would prevail forever and have neglected the fight against dictatorships. They have underestimated the power of dictatorships and the anti-democratic forces, thinking that they can handle any problems with ease.
Such arrogance has precipitated complacency on the part of the international democratic alliance, leading them to believe that there were no opposing forces to fight and thus the alliance itself became meaningless. This international trend influenced South Korea, weakening its stance against the anti-democratic forces within the country.
The system competition between the two Koreas is not over yet
Despite the apparent deficiencies in the capitalistic democracy today, the democratic powers have not taken proper actions to overcome the historical limitation.
The problem is more serious in South Korea. In comparison to the great economic development in South Korea, the ideological culture is under-developed, and the lack of democratic culture and the lack of political maturity prevent them from seeing the reality of the situation. This is rather apparent now.
Economic development can be achieved relatively quickly through the introduction of capitals and advanced technology, but political maturity and democratic understanding require a certain amount of time, effort, and training to achieve. Political maturity only comes with the people’s experience. South Korea has not had enough time for such maturity, and its ideological and political culture lag behind its economic culture.
Despite this condition, South Korean politicians and intellectuals have embarked on the sunshine policy (an embracement policy towards North Korea), mistakenly believing that the system competition was over in the Korean peninsula and that South Korea was already the victor.
Some ambitious, power-hungry politicians have pushed the sunshine policy to gain popular support and used the changing sentiment of the people as their political base. The unrelenting campaign by these politicians has rendered the South Koreans blind to the reality of the situation, that is, the confrontational condition that exists between the two systems in principle and in practice. The people are now confused as to whether North Korea is a friend or an enemy.
Many countries manipulate people and the media
I think that this mistake is caused by not only South Korea but also by the democratic alliances around the world. Democracy has not completed its mission yet.
In order to achieve the democratic era at this stage of human history, the world must continue its democratization process. It is necessary to fight against dictatorships and anti-democratic powers. It is a big mistake to consider that democratic era has been achieved already.
Nowadays, proponents of democracy in South Korea and other parts of the world have given up the fight against dictatorships. Instead, they use the media to stay in power. This kind of international trend has exacerbated the situation severely in South Korea, resulting in the pro-dictatorship policies while allowing the pro-North Korea and anti-US forces to prosper.
The relation between the two Koreas should be considered from the international point of view
In terms of the relations between the two Koreas, can we consider that North Korea has surrendered itself completely? That is not so. Some people say that North Korea is facing an imminent collapse, but militarily, North Korea is stronger than South Korea in spite of the North’s economic crisis.
In terms of economy, South Korea is superior to North Korea, but not militarily. If we take the allied forces into consideration, the balance of military power shifts a little. Provided that the South Korea-US alliance remains strong, we can say that South Korea is superior to North Korea militarily.
However, the current situation, that is, the weakening South Korea-US alliance and the embracement policies by the South Korean government give the advantage to North Korea.
This is so because the weakest point with North Korea is its economy, and the U.S. and South Korea could end up helping North Korea with its economy and diplomacy. Additionally, China—which shares its border with North Korea—is experiencing tremendous growth, and Russia is also recovering its power. This would lead to a stronger North Korea-China-Russia alliance while the South Korea-US alliance is experiencing a downward slide. South Korea-Japan relations is at a low point as well.
When we consider these circumstances, it is inevitable that the North Korean-Chinese influence would spread to South Korea. It is true that the pro-North and anti-US powers have increased rapidly because of the pro-North stance some politicians have taken. On the other hand, it is conceivable that the North Korea-China influence can reach South Korea on its own as well.
In spite of these alarming factors, many people are not looking at the Korean relations from an international point of view. The situation as it exists today is this: there is a state of conflict between the China-North Korea alliance and the South Korea-US alliance, which is much like an extension of the Cold War. However, this situation is being ignored. Certain politicians claim that the Cold War is over and say that “South Korea must go forward on its own and execute the embracement policy with North Korea.”
They are mired in a false sense of victory, unable to assess the historical development. They are headed in the wrong direction in terms of ideology and politics not only in South Korea but also other advanced capitalist countries.