A Study on Peace-building on the Korean Peninsula
Graduate School of International Studies Korea University
Korean Peninsula Peace-building vietnam;
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The impending problem for peace on the Korean Peninsula at this time is the stalemate between North Korea and the United States over the North Korean nuclear issue. Before we discuss as to whether North Korea is actually holding nuclear weapons or not, there is a fundamental question over the weapons of mass destruction. The nuclear powers that currently possess numerous nuclear weapons must first reduce or get rid of their weapons if they wish to restrain other countries from developing them. The nuclear powers that are trying to check or restrict other countries from developing nuclear weapons are nothing more than imperialistic. While the socialist systems around the world are collapsing and deteriorating, North Korea is being economically blockaded and is constantly being threatened. This is one reason why North Korea will try to develop nuclear weapons to protect their political system rather than for purposes of external campaign. Therefore, the way to settle the North Korea nuclear problem is to have the capitalist countries including the United States guarantee North Korea's system. In light of the geopolitical setting in Northeast Asia, the reunification of Korea can hardly be accomplished by way of war like in Vietnam, nor could a collapse of one side or the other like in Germany. Accordingly, the unification of North and South Korea should be achieved through negotiation, and the historic South-North Summit conference held in the year 2000 was a good starting point. Unification based on negotiation requires more time than unification based on war or absorption, and needs process of peace settlement in advance. Connecting railroads and constructing industrial complexes are the first steps of this process. Until the danger of war disappears and peace is settled a concrete discussion of the unification issue can hardly be realistic. Given Korea's geopolitical attributes, and in the absence of war or absorption, unification led by the surrounding four powers would hardly be possible. In the advent of the 21^(st) century, the U.S. troops are still stationed in Japan and South Korea. If East Asia's peace were to depend on U.S. troops, it hurt national self-respect of East Asians, especially Korea and Japan. As we enter the 21^(st) century, local and regional communities are being formed while conflicts stemming from nationalism are being settled. However, East Asia still hasn't formed a regional community and moreover, if peace were to depend on foreign troops, like the U.S. armed forces, it could only hurt the self-respect of the local populations. It has been 4 years since South and North Korean leaders announced the historic June 15 Joint Declaration. It was a significant event in our history since the two Koreas could put an end to the long-drawn out confrontation and conflict, and open a new era of reconciliation and cooperation. The Declaration expanded inter-Korean exchanges both at governmental and private levels. Up until now, various efforts have been made in all sectors to promote reconciliation and cooperation and there has been much progress like family reunions, road and railroad reconnections, and social, cultural, military events, as well as sports exchanges. Peace on the Korean Peninsula is not a matter limited only to North and South Korea. It is and should be a concern of Northeast Asia and indeed the entire world.