Understanding Peaceful Reunification: Its Dynamics and Challenges
The reunification of the Korean Peninsula has been an important aspiration of the Korean people on both sides of the 38th parallel for nearly six decades. The emotional family reunions of loved ones wrenched apart for more than half a century illustrate the deep desire for reunification, at least, among the older generation of Koreans. Despite this mutual desire to reconnect and after rounds of North-South negotiations, the two Koreas have failed to reunify. Their inability to do so after all these years naturally begs the basic, yet loaded, question of why is it so difficult. Although it is easy to respond that ideological differences or a history of rivalry are the reasons, these ostensible explanations do not explain the complex nuances of how such factors ultimately serve to promote or prevent reunification. This ambiguity is endemic to the existing policy literature on reunification. In addition, the current international relations literature has generally ignored the problems of achieving reunification despite the importance of this issue in shaping present-day geopolitics in Northeast Asia.