Week 7: Parallels between German and Korean Reunification

One of the more interesting comparisons to make to the splitting of the Korean Peninsula between North and South, is the former split of Germany between East and West. The borders between them are heavily militarized, the people seek reunification, and the backers of each side are geopolitical foes.

Robert E. Kelly wrote a 3 part piece about the comparisons between these two nations that have experienced extreme division by the Cold War. They can be found in the following 3 links, and if you are interested I highly reccomend reading them if you get a chance.
http://asiansecurityblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/korean-german-unification-parallels-1-similarities/
http://asiansecurityblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/korean-german-unification-parallels-2-differences/
http://asiansecurityblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/korean-german-unification-parallels-3-differences-conclusions/

Korean Map

Split map of the Korean Peninsula
Source: http://www.conservapedia.com/Korea

Some more of the similarities include what has happened since the nations were split. The westernized, more democratic side enjoyed economic success and growth, while the other side stagnated and effectively had to trap their citizens within their borders to prevent them from fleeing.

To me, the biggest, most glaring difference is this: North Korea is still there, and Germany is unified. That is a lot more time for people who remember their families to pass away, and a lot more time for children to be raised with heavy propaganda. That might make the sentiment of the people to reunify, as well as the chance of reunification more different.

Kelly concluded that reunification in the near future is unlikely, because having a booming China to prop up the North Korean regime is a much less one-sided situation than the ailing USSR propping up East Germany. In the time since the article was written, North Korea has also successful transfered power from Kim Jong Il to Kim Jon Un.

I tend to agree with his conclusion that the chances of a spontaneous reunification anytime soon. However, also since the time this article was written, China has grown tired of the antics of the North Korean regime, especially their nuclear ambitions, so time will tell if they continue their unwavering support.

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1 Comment

  1. Very interesting. I have never heard the comparison of Korea and Germany during the Cold war, but it is a very apt one. Luckily there isn’t nearly as much pressure from outside forces in Korea’s situation as there was for Germany (especially with Berlin).

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