Sunday, June 12, 2011

The DMZ as Digital Divide: ICT and Communication in Korean Unification

In an earlier post this morning I mused about the implications of cloud computing for international and national security, and suggested that "the growth of cyberspace is emerging as perhaps the single most important factor in, among other things, Korean unification." Shortly after publishing the post, I became aware of some new resources relating to the topic.
First, The Walter Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University earlier this year published a report entitled U.S.-DPRK Educational Exchanges: Assessment and Future Strategy.  Fortunately, the Stanford volume can be downloaded in PDF format, so I encourage you to use the preceding hyperlink to do so and read it.  Unfortunately, the Stanford volume devotes far to little attention to the exceedingly important role of information and communications technology (ICT) in Korean unification.  For evidence of this, readers may wish to read prior posts on this blog about this important topic at this link, or search for "unification" or "DMZ."
A second resource is the web site of The National Committee on North Korea. As noted in its mission statement, it "...advances, promotes and facilitates engagement between citizens of the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It works to reduce tensions and promote peace on the Korean Peninsula and improve the well being of the citizens of the DPRK. Through cooperation on concrete activities addressing specific problems, NCNK seeks to enhance broad-based understanding and mutual trust. NCNK supports transitions enabling the DPRK to become a full participant in the community of nations. The National Committee's principles of engagement focus on addressing urgent humanitarian needs, implementing long-term development, building sustained partnerships, fostering mutual understanding, and helping to avoid conflict on the Korean Peninsula."
Although pleased to see the above new resources, I am disappointed at the lack of a more comprehensive discussion of the role of ICT and communication in Korean unification.  It is such an obvious factor, especially in 2011 with the unfolding "Arab Spring" and international commentary on the role of digital, mobile and social media in it.  Even back in 1995, when my book on The Telecommunications Revolution in Korea was published, it demanded a full chapter (Chapter 9: "Toward One World: Beyond all Barriers": Communications and National Reunification).  Since that time, I have followed the topic mainly through posts on this blog.  Among them, my 2008 post about Johann Galtung's perspective on unification, and in 2009, Andrei Lankov's thoughts on the matter, deserve reading.
In conclusion, I would simply underscore the obvious for further research, theorizing, publication and discussion of the role of ICT and communication in Korean unification.

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