As readers of this blog will know, I've been concerned over the years with the important and apparently increasing role of communication in Korean reunification. I basically agree with Galtung's perspective on Korean unification, as noted in this 2008 post.
Two articles in Korea's English papers this morning relate to the central role of communication in Korean reunification. One was a review of President Lee Myung Bak's farewell speech in the Korea Joongang Daily. In that speech he issued a strong message to North Korea. “Although the North Korean regime refuses to change, the people in the North are changing fast and no one can stop it,” Lee said. “We are observing the change closely. I strongly believe that the era of unification is not far off. We need to hurry to be ready for unification. Of course, a strong security posture must be the basis for our preparation.” As noted in many earlier posts on this blog, the change taking place among the North Korean people is occurring in no small part because of the influence of mobile communication and digital devices which are multiplying the channels through which citizens in the North can receive or send information.
The growth and spread of digital networks and social networking is also having an impact in China that relates directly to Korean reunification. In a recent post I mentioned the alarming implications of a recent U.S. Senate report on China's official attitude toward unification of Korea. However, the concern I expressed in that post may be only part of the picture in China. As noted by the Chosun Ilbo this morning, Chinese netizens have begun to express their displeasure with the Chinese government's failure to restrain North Korea from conducting its recent nuclear test. This displeasure has led to public demonstrations in several Chinese cities.
In short, the impact of the public and public perceptions in China and North Korea should not be underestimated as a factor in Korean reunification.