North Korea’s Unification Drive

B. R. Myers
Tuesday, December 19, 2017 -
7:30pm to 9:00pm
Second floor Residents’ Lounge, Somerset Palace
10,000 won for non-members and 5,000 won for students (with student ID); free for members



The North Korean state was in its infancy when it fought a nuclearized superpower to a draw in a war of unification. It has since developed a nuclear capability of its own, which it explicitly links to the goal of “final victory” over the enemy. Yet most observers still believe that the regime only wants to co-exist with the South sans fear of US attack. In fact the traumatic memory of how Bonn’s strategy of “destabilization through stabilization” subverted East Germany to the point of collapse looms larger in the regime's considerations than Gaddafi’s demise. Only unification can give the regime long-term security. The same analysts who urge us to see things from Pyongyang's perspective refuse to grasp that it regards the lower half of the peninsula as part of the DPRK. Whether it talks of "final victory" or self-defense, it means the same thing.  

The Western consensus, which is only now beginning to crumble, has been shaped by many factors. These include Pyongyang’s success in grooming and "licensing" the West’s own experts; its equally clever manipulation of international media, to mention here only the co-opting of the Associated Press; and Washington's chronic and perhaps racist refusal -- despite being routinely outsmarted -- to attribute as much shrewdness to the North as it attributed to the USSR. Most important, however, is the assumption that Seoul would never yield to Kim Jong Un without a war he knows he couldn't win. But regardless of whether the peaceful subjugation of the South is objectively feasible, Kim has ample reason to believe that it is. For a clearer vision of the realities, both the foreign press corps and the academic community must delve deeper into South Korea’s state-loyalty disadvantage, as well as into the inner track of local progressivism. 


B.R. Myers is a professor in the international studies department of Dongseo University in Busan. He is the author of Han Sorya and North Korean Literature (1994), The Cleanest Race (2010), and North Korea's Juche Myth (2015).



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