Radio Broadcasts Key to Civil Society in North Korea

first_img By Daily NK – 2015.03.31 2:11pm Analysis & Opinion Analysis & Opinion Public discussion on unification of theKorean Peninsula has gained momentum, particularly since South Korean PresidentPark Geun Hye referred to “unification as a jackpot” and has kicked offefforts to build the foundation for a peaceful unification. A survey conductedin January indicates 82.6 percent of the respondents believe that unificationis necessary, according to private think tank Asan Institute for Policy Studies.This appears to be the result of increased attention on the topic due to the “unificationjackpot doctrine.” However, if you consider various aspects inSouth Korean society, we cannot simply be complacent about a favorable surveyresult. Reaching an agreement about the larger framework of unification may berelatively easy, but public opinion differs greatly when it comes to specificapproaches towards this goal. This vast range of approach is reflected in thecontroversial comments on “unification through absorption” made by the vicechairman of the presidential preparatory committee for unification, Chung JongWook; at the other end of the spectrum is self-proclaimed unification activistKim Ki Jong who attacked the U.S. Ambassador to Seoul. Pro-North Korean groups inthe South also claim they are carrying out campaigns for unification. The idea of unification is exploited by allforces in the South– the government, pro-North Korean groups, orterrorists–to justify their actions. We cannot be overly optimisticabout the 82.6 percent that agreed unification is needed. What we need to do isfilter out unhealthy and fraudulent unification activists and build up strongforces that can create a “unification jackpot.” To do so, we must hold multiplediscussions on how and in what method unification should be pursued and deviseprinciples for a viable and sound unification movement. The conditions surrounding the division andreunification process of East and West Germany are quite different from thoseof the Korean Peninsula. However, Germany’s example can serve as a crucialmodel for scholars and politicians studying the issue of Korea’s unification.As the last divided country in this world, Korean society can learn much fromGermany’s process of unification. However, one thing is often overlooked — thetwo Germanies had a longstanding shared identity as one modern nation and frequentinteraction and trade during their time of division. One of the key characteristics is that bothGermanies had shared a modern civilization with a civil society in whichindividual rights and dignity were upheld as the highest values. This moderncivilization that developed following the Middle Ages played a pivotal role inthe unification of East and West Germany. On the other hand, South and NorthKorea share a common history of Japanese colonialism and the Chosun Dynasty,but the two countries went their separate ways following the division afterliberation from Japan. North Korea took the direction of a completedictatorship wherein the dignity of individuals was utterly neglected, while SouthKorea headed towards a free democracy that promotes and respects individualfreedom. The formation of civil societies did play apositive role in the unification of the two Germanies. However, North Koreacompletely lacks the bedrock on which it can build a healthy civil society, andthe third generation dictatorship has sealed off the possibility of such throughviolence, tyranny, and surveillance of its population. Unification Media Group, aconsortium founded last year in the South, has set out to achieve its mostimportant goal of creating in the North a grassroots civil society–the pinnacle of democracy. Both Radio Free Chosun and Open Radio forNorth Korea that are part of the larger consortium have broadcast radio programsinto North Korea for over ten years. The two organizations have recently joinedhands with DailyNK to send two hours of radio programming to the North on adaily basis from 10:00 p.m. to midnight. All member organizations have workedso far to create a change in awareness within the North and raise more interestin South Korean society about the lives of North Koreans. From here on, Unification Media Group mustwork to play an essential role in reigniting interest in discourse on unificationand facilitate the formation of a civil society in the North. Instilling valuessuch as freedom, human rights, and democracy within the North Korean people isthe first step in creating the “unification jackpot” Seoul has proposed. Unificationis now becoming a driving force in society that will move on irrespective ofindividual support or opposition to it. It is yet unknown whether unificationwill become a great opportunity for growth or be a calamity.If we can build upa civil society that draws out change and progress within the dictatorship,unification will bring with it an opportunity for us to leap forward. Theresponse from North Korean leader Kim Jong Eun, strongly opposing these radio broadcasts and other efforts aimed at creating a grassroots movement, onlymakes clearer which direction we need to take in order to realize the dream ofa “unification jackpot.”  SHARE AvatarDaily NKQuestions or comments about this article? Contact us at [email protected] Facebook Twitter Analysis & Opinion center_img RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Tracking the “unidentified yellow substance” being dried out near the Yongbyon Nuclear Center Is Nuclear Peace with North Korea Possible? Analysis & Opinion Radio Broadcasts Key to Civil Society in North Korea Pence Cartoon: “KOR-US Karaoke”last_img read more