Thank you very much for inviting me to this Korean War 70-year memorial webinar. I would like to express my deep thanks to UPF-Russia and all participants for making this event possible. It is my greatest pleasure to share with you what I have learned about the unification of Korea, including the UPF founders’ vision.
The Korean War Broke Out in 1950
The Korean Peninsula was under the rule of the United States and the Soviet Union, which had divided the nation at the 38th parallel after the Second World War. During the 35 years of Japanese occupation, the active independence movements were mainly organized by Christians and communists. After the South Korean and North Korean governments each declared independence in 1948, the nation was fully divided, and the division eventually ignited the Korean War. On June 25, 1950, the North Korean army, supported by the Soviet Union, crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea for the purpose of unifying the country, in their view.
The United Nations Command was organized in 1950 to support South Korea. This is why some scholars refer to the Korean War as the “Third World War.” The background of Korean division was the emergence of the Cold War. The ceasefire agreement, signed after Joseph Stalin died in 1953, has been maintained until today. Since time is very limited in this webinar, let me focus on the reunification of Korea.
The Benefits of Reunification
Let me first introduce some scholars’ views regarding the benefits of reunification. Peaceful unification would realize 1) political stability and multilateral cooperation in East Asia, which would lead to 2) the reduction of military power in East Asia. Peace would bring 3) the dynamic economic development of Korea. The reunification would also mean 4) the final end of the Cold War, which would escalate 5) the establishment of the East Asia Union. As a result, the Far East would develop. Korean people commonly think that if South Korean technology and the natural resources in the North would be combined, the unified Korea would become a very powerful nation in Asia.
The Way for Reunification
How, then, can the reunification of Korea be realized? Let me introduce the three steps for reunification.
The first step (model) is unification by force. This was attempted through the Korean War. The war, however, brought tremendous damage to the Korean land and people. We all agree that a second Korean War should not happen on the peninsula. The second step is unification by competition. This means the winner in national development and international recognition absorbs the loser. We can learn a lot from Germany in this regard.
The Lessons from the Case of Germany
There were many factors that made German unification possible. The key factors were 1) the economic power gap between West and East was fairly small, 2) the West German economy was well developed to cover the cost of reunification, 3) the historical and cultural identity was maintained to some extent, 4) they had no tragic experience of bloodshed, 5) the Cold War was ending. German reunification would have been impossible without international consent including Russia.
What about the Case of Korea?
We can make only a limited analysis, due to the lack of North Korean data. Let me dare to speak about it.
1) The economic disparity between North and South is unmeasurable. Some scholars analyzed it at about 1:50 or more. 2) The South Korean economy has greatly developed but has not been strong enough to embrace North Korea. 3) The national identities of both sides are completely different. 4) Mutual distrust is still quite intense due to the Korean War. 5) The international peripheral environment for reunification looks like it has not matured yet.
This second model for unification has not brought reunification to the Korean Peninsula. In the case of Korea, the winner could not absorb the loser. The current South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, delivered the following message on June 25, 2020, on the occasion of a memorial ceremony for the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War:
“We are against a war. Our GDP is more than 50 times that of North Korea, and our trade is over 400 times that of the North. The two Koreas' competition over political and economic systems already ended a long time ago.”
This is why the Korean people, and including surrounding nations, need the third model for unification. Before introducing the third stage and the views of Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, let me speak about something fundamental.
Challenges to Unification: The Cost of Unification
According to an estimate by the Federation of Korean Industries (2005), between 2 trillion and 3 trillion USD would be necessary as the cost of unification. I suppose they would need more!
What would be the possible solutions to cover this huge cost? One would be to install a re-unification tax, and the other would be for the Korean government to request support from the international community. Let me introduce one interesting data about the Korean people’s understanding. In 2005 the JoongAng Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, conducted a survey of its readers, asking the question “Who was responsible for the division of Korea?” The responses were as follows:
United States-53%, Japan-15.8%, Russia-13.7%, China-8.8%
A unified Korea may demand support based on this percentage. Of course, there were domestic reasons for division, but it could not be denied that the Cold War divided Korea.
North Korea’s Uniqueness
The unique characteristic of North Korea is the Juche ideology, which means “self-reliance or subjectivity” and is a totally human-centric thought. The North Korean supreme leader Kim Il Sung started to speak about Juche in the 1950s, and Hwang Jang-yop, who later defected to South Korea, systematized it in the 1970s.
The Juche ideology was understood as a Korean version of Marxism-Leninism in the beginning, but gradually it turned into a nationalistic idea, losing the original factors. The key points of this thought are “Subjectivity in ideology, Political independence, Economic self-sustenance, Self-reliance in defense.” The country of North Korea is based upon this ideology.
Seen from this ideology, North Korea has been developing nuclear weapons to achieve self-defense. This is why many scholars think that North Korea will never give up upgrading its nuclear capability. The denuclearization of “North Korea” or of the “Korean Peninsula” is the biggest issue of the U.S.-North Korean Peace Talks.
The UPF Founders’ View
The fundamental issue is the South Korean people’s desire for unification. According to a survey conducted in 2017 by the Korea Institute for National Unification, 57.8 percent of South Koreans responded that unification was needed; however, 60 percent of young people in their 20s said they didn’t want unification. More than any political or economic measures, the enthusiasm for unification must be revived.
Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon were both born in what is now North Korea during the Japanese occupation. They experienced the Second World War and the Korean War. They were both refugees during the Korean War. This is one of the factors that motivated them to work tirelessly for peace and unification. This year of 2020 is the 100-year commemoration of Reverend Moon’s birth.
Dr. and Mrs. Moon visited North Korea in December 1991 for the sake of building peace on the peninsula, even risking their lives. They had a peace talk with North Korean supreme leader Kim Il Sung, who once attempted to kill Dr. Moon. It was a big surprise for us that the peace agreement was signed by them. Let me introduce:
The implementation of separated-family visitations
The peaceful use of nuclear energy
The welcoming of investments by overseas Koreans
The realization of summit talks between North and South
The development of the Mount Kumgang Tourist Region
This agreement became a fundamental framework of North Korea’s diplomatic policy in the 1990s and the early 21st century.
Dr. Moon’s Tearful Speech
We can know the heart behind their visit to North Korea from Dr. Moon’s speech in 1987 in which he urged South Koreans to have “the heart to walk together [with North Koreans] as an accompanying person.”
Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon also speaks with the heart of a mother, saying that “God, as the Parent of humanity, is desiring that His children live in harmony, eliminating hostile relationships.” The words of the UPF founders may sound overly religious and abstract, but this message had an impact on the South Korean people at that time.
Based on their speeches, the agreement can be explained as follows:
Since the fundamental issue is the enthusiasm for unification, Dr. and Mrs. Moon proposed a new identity to both.
Ten million North Korean refugees live in the South. Separated-family visitation is a very humanitarian plan. By implementing this plan, misunderstandings on both sides will be resolved gradually.
The peaceful use of nuclear energy is crucial for peace.
It is expected that overseas Koreans’ investments will contribute to unification. This is why Dr. Moon has been involved in the unity of pro-North and pro-South people in Japan.
After this agreement was made, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il met on June 15, 2000.
The Mount Kumgang Project was the one Dr. Moon proposed first to the North Korean government.
Of course, the United States and China may play a decisive role, but the role of Russia will be greater than we imagine. As no nation can stand alone in the world, effective international cooperation and support are extremely important for the unification of Korea.
As Korea was divided by and during the Cold War, it would be good for the international community to send a “warm spring breeze” for unifying Korea. This is why Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon have stated that reunification has to be realized based upon true love. I am hoping that Russia, China, and the United States will play a historic role as peacemakers. Thank you very much.