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Divided Korea: Toward a Culture of Reconciliation

Series: Borderlines
Volume: 25
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Divided Korea
    Book Description:

    Roland Bleiker suggests profound structural problems within and between the two Koreas that have not been acknowledged until now. Expanding the discussion beyond geopolitics and ideology, Bleiker places peninsular tensions in the context of a struggle over competing forms of Korean identity. Divided Korea examines both domestic and international attitudes toward Korean identity, the legacy of war, and the possibilities for—and anxieties about—unification.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9718-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface: A Rogue Is a Rogue Is a Rogue
    (pp. ix-xx)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxiv)
  5. Note on Transliteration
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  6. Introduction: Rethinking Korean Security
    (pp. xxvii-lii)

    One of the key features of politics in Korea is a persistently recurring state of military tension. The roots of this conflict are historical: as a result of the emerging Soviet-American rivalry at the end of World War II, the Korean peninsula was tentatively divided along the thirtyeighth parallel. With the creation of two politically and ideologically separate Korean states in 1948, and their subsequent confrontation during the Korean War, the patterns for conflict in northeast Asia were set. In 1953 the Armistice Agreement ended three years of intense fighting that killed more than a million people. But the memory...

  7. PART I Existing Security Dilemmas in Korea

    • 1 The Emergence of Antagonistic Identities
      (pp. 3-16)

      The honorific attributes in the first epigraph were bestowed by North Korea’s official press upon the outgoing and incoming South Korean presidents Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo. The year was 1988. In the South, hatred of North Korea’s Communist leadership was widespread too, although articulated in slightly less colorful ways. According to the Tae Sung Dong Primary School, a nationally designated model village located within the Southern part of the DMZ, the primary aim of education was “love your country and lead the way in anti-communism.”¹ One does not need to be a trained psychologist to realize that children who...

    • 2 The Persistence of Cold War Antagonisms
      (pp. 17-34)

      One would think that ideological antagonisms substantially subsided with the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent disintegration of the Soviet Union. But in Korea it is striking how much remains the same. The peninsula has become an anachronism in international relations: a small but highly volatile Cold War enclave surrounded by a world that has long moved away from a dualistic ideological standoff. What Kihl Young Hwan noted two decades ago thus remains by and large true today: the level of ideological hostility in Korea is so intense that it leads to the perception, and actual...

    • 3 The Geopolitical Production of Danger
      (pp. 35-60)

      Constituting a natural link between the Asian mainland and Japan, the Korean peninsula has always been an important factor in the security policy of the surrounding powers. In the nineteenth century two major wars were fought for control of the peninsula, one between Japan and China (1894–1895) and the other between Japan and Russia (1904–1905). With the development of military technology and the increased globalization of the confrontation among the great powers in the twentieth century, the geopolitical importance of Korea increased. The arbitrary partition of Korea in 1945, and the subsequent transformation of this supposedly provisional settlement...

  8. PART II Alternative Security Arrangements for Korea

    • 4 Toward an Ethics of Dialogue
      (pp. 63-78)

      Few would question that dialogue is an essential aspect of dealing with security dilemmas. Michel Wieviorka is one of many commentators who draw attention to the linkages between conflict and the breakdown or absence of dialogue. Violence, he argues, emerges in a context in which relationships between different societal groups are either strongly reduced or altogether absent.¹

      Although the DMZ remains the world’s most tightly sealed border, all parties entangled in the Korean conflict largely acknowledge the desirability of dialogue. Look at the most recent crisis, the nuclear confrontation that started in the autumn of 2002. There were differences about...

    • 5 Dilemmas of Engagement
      (pp. 79-94)

      Although underestimated by defense experts, the promotion of dialogue and face-to-face encounters is by no means a radical idea. Most state actors entangled in the Korean security situation display a preference for the so-called soft landing scenario, which foresees an incremental rapprochement between North and South. All but the most radical critics of engagement advocate policies that are geared toward avoiding either a direct military conflict with or a sudden collapse of North Korea. Since the late 1990s the South Korean government has been particularly active in promoting such a step-by-step approach toward normalizing political interactions on the peninsula. While...

    • 6 Toward an Ethics of Difference
      (pp. 95-114)

      Drawing attention to the contradictions and problems of normalization, as I did in chapters 4 and 5, is not to oppose engagement or to eschew democratic values. Quite the contrary. An active engagement policy is badly needed on the peninsula, but in order to overcome some of the most difficult existing security dilemmas, the policy must integrate an understanding and appreciation of difference. Democracy is crucial to this endeavor too, for in its essence a democratic ethos is all about finding ways of appreciating and redeeming difference. In this chapter I will outline the contours of an ethics of difference....

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 115-124)

    Korea is an open book whose story line has yet to be written to the end. Whether peace or conflict will prevail is to a great extent dependent on the mind-sets that will guide not only future decision makers but also the societies at large in both Koreas. I have sought to advance a number of suggestions about how to understand and engage this ongoing political struggle. Two components have been essential in this endeavor.

    The first task consisted of presenting the conflict on the peninsula not only in conventional ideological and geopolitical terms but also, and primarily, as a...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 125-164)
  11. Index
    (pp. 165-179)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 180-182)