Thursday, March 20, 2008

Communication and National Reunification

Professor Johan Galtung, one of the world's towering intellects, with whose work I became acquainted in graduate school, was in Korea recently for a guest lecture at Dong-A University in Pusan. Early in his scholarly career he thought about and published on the topic of the international flow of news. Therefore, what follows in this post should not be surprising, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he had come to Korea and addressed specifically the central political issue here. His guest lecture was entitled "Peace in the Global Era and Perspectives of the Unification on the Korean Peninsula" According to the author of the Left Flank blog, "Galtung quickly laid out his five-point lecture. He began with his distinction between negative and positive peace, and applied it the Korean peninsula. The goal of resolving the Korean armistice precedes political unification. After characterizing the North Korean state as "fundamentalist Confucian", Galtung then argued that unification only necessitated the free flow of people, goods and services, and information and ideas between the two Korean states, not the dissolution of ROK and DPRK into a single Korean state. Galtung buttressed this point by that of three other scenarios, conquest, collapse, or peaceful dissolution, the first two were violent, and the last has never occurred in human history. Galtung termed this "national reconciliation without the unification of two states". Galtung subsequently considered confederation as a starting political point, but unnecessary. " (My emphasis added.)
It is significant that Galtung mentions the free flow of five things: people, goods, services, information and ideas. One could hardly make a better argument that the communication and digital divide between North and South Korea are at the heart of national division today. Accordingly, the opening up of free communication is tantamount to national reunification. In fact, I would argue that if services include modern communications services, which in turn require modern fiber-optic and mobile networks, the five necessities Galtung mentions will result in Korean reunification. I would go further to speculate that fulfilling these necessities will be the beginning of the end of two states on the Korean peninsula. Anyone who has lived in Korea for more than a decade, as I have, will know that free flow of information on this peninsula, culturally speaking, leads directly and probably quickly (빨리빨리) to reunification.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the follow-up link! I was concerned Galtung's lecture was ignored. I g=feel responsible for disseminating this information.

    I would emphasize Galtung's opinion, that political unification is "20th Century" (his quote). After free flow, why bother with all the costs? There really are no further benefits, and so much more to lose.