My dear Kacvey,
What a day, Friday 27 April 2018! A new page of World History is being written in the Korean Peninsula!
Thank You, CNN, for your reporting that we selectively archive for future use:
– Full declaration of North and South Korean summit, and
– Kim Yo Jong: The only woman at the summit table
– In pictures: The historic Korean summit
Kacvey, to encourage the discussions you would have with your law school students on probable issue of “reunification of Korea” that has been worldwide dissected/projected/critiqued, you may wish to inject one historical element into their analytical and critical thinking.
The first 3 lines of the Chinese classic and historical novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” (三国演义) read: “Here begins our tale. The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been.” (话说天下大势，分久必合，合久必分.)
In 1945, at the end of the Japanese occupation for 35 years, Korea was divided into North Korea and South Korea through a mutual agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1948, the Republic of Korea was established in South Korea, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in North Korea. Both Korea claimed sovereignty over the Korean peninsula and with the backing of the United States and the Soviet Union, both Korea made war between themselves known as the Korean War from 25 June 1950. The Korean War ended on 27 July 1953 with the signature of an armistice. To this date, North and South Korea remain separate and occupy almost the same territory they had when the war began.
Would the North and South Korean Summit lead to a “unification” in the not-too-distant future? Well, let the world of all tendencies debate and advance their different view, but your students should be aware that “division” and “unification” have always been part of human geographical history since time memorial when men made wars against other men in the name of any ideology that men have created to suit their territorial ambition and power.
- In ancient time, how many times Greece was “divided” and “united”, until what it is today?
- In ancient Roman empire, how many times was it “divided” and “united” until it becomes today’s Italy?
- In 1983, the once “united” Republic of Cyprus was divided de facto into Republic of Cyprus and the Republic of Northern Cyprus, separated by a United Nations buffer zone.
- In more than 5,000 years of history, how many wars of “division” or “unification” has China gone through?
- In the British Isles, how many wars between kingdoms until they become united, and later to be known as the United Kingdom?
- And how about the referendum on Scottish Independence from the United Kingdom on 18 September 2014?
- In 1776, in North America, 13 states were unified to declare their independence from the British colonial rule and formed the United States.
- In tsarist time, there was no Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) that was established in 1922. But after its dissolution in 1991, it becomes Russia again, and the “Soviet Republics” recovered their original status and independence.
- In the Balkans, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was “united” in 1867 and “divided” in 1918. Yugoslavia was “united” in 1918 and “divided” in 1992. Czechoslovakia was “united” in 1917 and “divided” in 1993.
- After the Second World War, defeated Germany was “divided” in 1949 into West Germany known as Federal Republic of Germany, and East Germany known as Democratic Republic of Germany. After the collapse of Berlin Wall in 1989, West Germany and East Germany were “united” in October 1990.
- The once “united-but-geographically-separated” Pakistan was “divided” in 1971 when East Pakistan (also historically known as East Bengal) became independent and took the name of Bangladesh.
- The Federation of Malaysia which was formed (“united”) in August 1963 was “divided” in August 1965 after the separation of Singapore.
- In October 1961, in Cameroon, once known as “Africa in miniature”, the colonized French Cameroun was “united” with the British Southern Cameroons to form an independent state known as Federal Republic of Cameroon.
- In July 2011, South Sudan was separated (“divided”) from Sudan to become the independent Republic of South Sudan.
- How about the short-lived United Arab Republics (UAR) “uniting” Egypt and Syria between February 1958 until it became “divided” in September 1961. Also, how about Federation of Arab Republics (FAR) “uniting” Egypt, Libya and Syria between January 1972 until it became “divided” in November 1977?
- How about some contemporaneous and repeated threats of “division” in “united” countries such as Québec from Canada, Catalonia from Spain, Biafra from Nigeria?
- How about past Cambodia where territories were “divided” and taken by both, the Western and Easter neighbors? How much longer Cambodia can remain in its current borders with continuous massive influx of both Chinese and Vietnamese?
If Korean people decided to “unite” themselves through their common ethnicity, blood line, culture and language, resources and know-how, and mutual understanding and tolerance, nothing can stop them.
Let bear in mind these words of political wisdom from:
Kim Dae Jung, ex-president of South Korea: “Unification is not our present goal. That is a future program.”
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany: “At German unification, we were lucky to get so much help from West Germany. Now, we have the good fortune of being able to help each other in Europe.”
Lee Hyeon-seo, a North Korean defector and writer: “This is a divisive issue, but I really hope for unification. Even though we have been divided for a long time, we are all Koreans, so we should live together in a united Korea.”