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South Korean Foreign Policy Towards North Korea

3402 words - 14 pages

Tension on the Korean Peninsula - South Korean policy towards North KoreaNorth Korea (Formal name: Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea or DPRK) is as a relic of the cold war; the world's last remaining totalitarian Stalinist dictatorship. As arguably the most secretive state in the world, it poses a unique set of challenges to the world and especially its democratic and capitalist neighbor South Korea (Formal Name Republic of Korea, ROK). As a relic of the cold war, North Korea remains an anomaly of the international system, and as past interactions show, it proves extremely difficult to predict what future actions it will take. With the recent bombardment of the South Korean Island of Yeongpyong and the sinking of the warship Cheonan, tensions between the two Korea's are at their lowest point since the end of the Korean War. What direction must South Korea take if it hopes to achieve lasting peace on the peninsula and is the goal of re-unification something that can be attained in our lifetime? Past South Korean engagement policies such as the Nordpolitik and the 'Sunshine Policy' have shown to illicit some positive effects on improving relations but failed to reduce the military tension that exists on the peninsula as the North continued to pursue a nuclear weapons program during their implementation. The current administration has taken a more hard lined approach but this too has proven to only further increase tensions as evident with the recent provocations. For South Korea to successfully formulate a set of policies that would illicit a positive response from North Korea, South Korea must carefully evaluate its past policy successes while also attempting to understand the underlying reasoning behind North Korean behavior. This succession could prove to be a catalyst for the demise of the DPRK and S. Korea must approach the situation very carefully if it wants to capitalize on the situation.As scholar Samuel S. Kim points out, what makes the Korean situation so unique today is in its peoples past history of unity and homogeneity. For almost two millennia the Korean peninsula has been united ethnically and linguistically and from 668 AD until 1945 it lived under the same rule with the same "territory, language, race, customs and history"(Kim 3). Thus illustrates the paradox of the Korean conflict and the subsequent reasoning behind the continued collective belief in reunification of the peninsula.The current situation on the peninsula can be traced back to the end of WWII in 1945 with the liberation of the Korean peninsula following thirty-five years of forced Japanese occupation. Following the Japanese surrender, the Soviet Union and the United States held an emergency meeting to establish post-war spheres of influence and the disarming of the Japanese. In what is viewed as a rather hasty decision, the Korean peninsula it was decided to divide Korea into separate American and Soviet occupation zones along the 38th parallel, roughly cutting...

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