Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Media on the death of Kim Jong Il: National Unification

Another striking aspect of the first hours and days of international media coverage of the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is the relative lack of attention to Korea's division, or put the other way, the problem or challenge of national reunification.  After all, in the broad sweep of history, Korea's division is an aberration that has only lasted a bit over half a century for a nation whose history stretches back thousands of years.  Most of the media references to division go back only to the Korean war and use the old cold war perspective to explain how Korea was divided and the implications thereof.
Most Koreans instinctively understand that national division is a fundamental problem and that unification is necessary to solve this quintessential political problem in Northeast Asia.  That is why South Korea maintains a government ministry devoted to unification.  However, as an article in Foreign Policy suggests, many South Koreans, especially its youth, are not all that enthusiastic about unification with North Korea.  I believe that the author of this article pushes the point too far in one sentence where he claims that "Despite the fear that a hostile nuclear-armed state without a clear leader in charge could instill in its neighbors, most South Koreans here really just don't seem to care about what happens in the North."

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