Can the Korean Unification Team Give Us Hope for the Future?

The Olympics are known as a time of peace, unity, and competitive sports among various nations, and this year has been special because both Koreas joined together under a single flag. The joint team seems like a great thing. Could it be a sign that someday in the not-so distant future, the political entities of North Korea and South Korea will be banished to the history books as a construct created by the United States and the Soviet Union? The images of athletes from both countries working together as a team reflect the overall desire of the Korean people to unite. Let us “tear down this wall” of the Cold War and let the people become one nation.

Yet, despite this encouraging news, there was of course political drama in the spotlight that could foreshadow resistance to the idea of unification. One of the architects behind the division of Korea and the primary beneficiary of a continuing cold war between the two countries, the United States government, did not seem entirely thrilled by the union created at the Winter Olympics. Vice President Mike Pence did not speak to Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un’s sister and an advisor to the North Korean dictator, and even decided to skip a formal dinner hosted by Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s president, because the North Korean delegation would be there. He also gave his characteristic, unenthusiastic stare, similar to his mean mug across the demilitarized zone (DMZ), at the opening ceremony of the games and remained seated as the unified Korean team came out on stage.

Although Pence’s actions at the opening ceremony were childish and rude, this brings us to a deeper issue. The United States government desires division between both Koreas and will not tolerate diplomacy. During his visit to South Korea, Pence made it clear that talks would only begin when Kim Jong-un dismantles his nuclear program, and there is no doubt that the United States will continue to utilize fear tactics to force the resignation of the North Korean leader or prevent him continuing his nuclear and ballistic missile testing. This may include increasing economic sanctions, sending more troops to the DMZ, and escalating exercises near North Korea’s border. Issuing demands and threats to force a government to stand down is nothing short of terrorism, and requiring demands before diplomacy can begin is straight-up arrogance. Yet, this is what our policy with North Korea has become.

South Korean President Moon has been invited to North Korea to speak to Kim Jong-un, and perhaps we will see some sort of progress in the relationship between the two countries. My suggestion for any future discussions on Korea is to leave Vice President Pence home, or better yet, leave the United States out of it and let Korea determine its own future. While you continue cheering for Team U.S.A. (or the country of your origin, if you are not from the United States), take some time to reflect on the possibilities that could stem from the Korean unification team and on the antagonists who are attempting to prevent future diplomacy.

Thank you for reading, and please check out my book, The Global Bully, and website.
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Published on February 15, 2018 03:28
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