Key Note Speech by Ambassador CHANG, see jeong

June 21, 2019. Berlin

1. Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to speak to you today here in Berlin, at the historical place of German reunification.

I stand here today with mixed emotions as North Koreas nuclear provocation has incessantly destabilized the Korean peninsula. It does not suffice to say that security of the peninsula is simply unstable. I am even afraid that the Korean peninsula is on the brink of a second war, the first of which killed millions almost 70 years ago. As we speak here in Berlin, North Korea is repeatedly testing its missiles and strengthening its nuclear capabilities. Before I speak to you about my thoughts on reunification, we need to reconsider whether we are ever-vigilant and ready for security on the Korean peninsula as it is being pushed to war.

2. Reunification not Reunification but New Unification

Personally I dont like to talk about reunification of the Korean peninsula in comparison with the case of Germany. The path to reunification of the two nations is simply too different. I was working in the Korean embassy in Bonn following Germanys reunification in 1990. At the time, three resident officials from the Korean Ministry of Unification were working together with us and the amount of documents reporting back to Seoul regarding Germanys reunification must have been truck loads. And in addition many came to Germany to see and understand its reunification first-hand. Among them were many of Koreas former presidents. Many doctrines regarding reunification were announced right here in Germany, such as the Berlin Declaration or the Dresden Declaration. What was the result of all this? As you all know very well, the path to reunification in Korea is unlike any aspect of reunification of Germany. Unfortunately, all of our efforts to learn the German reunification seem to be almost meaningless. Why havnt we Koreans followed the path well worn by Germany? Then what is the point in trying to learn from German reunification? This symposium that we are attending today is no different. If we think its enough to simply show up to events like this, its not enough. It is now time for us to act and speak with our actions.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Despite all these negative observations, the reason why we are still talking about German unification is simply because that German reunification is the very model we want to follow. While the ideologies and systems were different, the side with the liberal democracy and market economy won out and reunification was achieved peacefully without a single drop of blood being shed. Furthermore, integration processes have been proving as a success undertaken with exemplary patience following reunification.

I would like to raise some questions in this connection. Did reunification of Germany come about easily? Was Schabowskis single mistake responsible for the opening of the Bornholmer Street Checkpoint, which all of a sudden led to the fall of the Berlin Wall? I dont think so. In a nutshell, there is no result without a cause. I would like to introduce what West Germany has done for reunification. Let me summarize in a few key-words like this.

1. Chancellor Adenauers Westpolitik, 2. Chancellor Brandts Ostpolitik, and 3. Chancellor Schmidts NATO Doppel-Strategie, and 4. Chancellor Kohls agile driving force. Chancellor Adenauer is often compared to President Seungman Rhee while Chancellor Brandt is President Daejung Kim. I agree to the former comparison but disagree with the latter. Its because the premise of Ostpolitik of Chancellor Brandt is fundamentally different from that of the Sunshine policy of President Kim. I believe that Chancellor Brandts Ostpolitik is more comparable to President Rhos Nordpolitik in which he sought to improve relations with the Eastern Bloc based upon a solid foundation of ROK-US alliance. Ostpolitik was based on Chancellor Adenauers Westpolitik and in a sense, it is the second Westpolitik. The policys foundation was firmly rooted in the West in order to avoid any mistrust from the US and NATO while relations were carefully improved with the Eastern Bloc. Aids given to East Germany was based strictly on a principle of reciprocity while concrete and transparent follow up plans led to a sustainable exchange and cooperation systems. Such efforts were decisive in later bringing down the Berlin wall. Correspondence exchanges, broadcasting, increased exchange of personnel, freeing of East German political prisoners were secured from East Germany.

The Sunshine policy however failed to achieve anything. According to a year 2010s report of the Congressional Research Service of the US, economic aid to North Korea reached 7 billion US dollars during the tenure of President Kim and Rho (1998 –2008). Of this, 2.9 billion US dollars were provided in the form of cash for the Gaesong Industrial Complex and Mt. Geumgang Tour projects. During this time, North Korea was able to expedite development of its nuclear program. Furthermore, policies regarding North Korean defectors turned frigid which contributed to subsiding the defection rush amongst North Koreans. And so Korea was not able to take advantage of the golden opportunity to follow in Germanys footsteps of Self-Liberation, Selbst-Befreiung. This is my belief, as well as Dr. Lee Young Gi, who is an expert in Korean affairs and a displaced person himself.

I think you now have a good idea of how different the path to reunification has been for Korea and Germany. Lets talk about another model of unification in Germany. 150 years ago, Bismark led so called the Lesser German solution or Kleindeutsche Loesungwhich resulted in the unification of Germany as the Deutsches Reich in 1871. This ended the continued division of Germany following the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire by Napolean. However, Bismarks unification of Germany excluded Austria which at the time was considered to be a part of Germany. Bismarks Kleindeutsche Loesung won out over the Austrian Habsburg Empires Grossdeutsche Loesung(Greater German solution).

I would like to point two thing out here. Why did Bismark choose to exclude Austria, which spoke the same language and were essentially the same people? And what are the implications that Korea can take away from this? Firstly, I believe that Bismark chose to exclude Austria as its differences in ideology and systems were incompatible with his plans to unite Germany with Preussen as the center-piece. He therefore chose practical division. At the time, Preussen was emerging as an up-and-coming capitalist Protestant state while Austria was a Catholic state led by a few aristocratic families, which had been the center of the Habsburg Empire for the past thousand years. Bismarkwas a skilled diplomat. He was an active participant of the Frankfurt Parliament which had been formed following the revolution of 1848. He conversed vehemently with Austrian representatives and felt that their ideals were significantly different from those of Preussen. And so even though Preussen defeated Austria in war, he chose to forgo the Greater German solution. What is the lesson here? The Korean peninsula today is home to two of the most strikingly contrasting nations on the planet, South and North Korea. One rose from the ashes of war to become a trading and economic powerhouse through democracy and the market economy. It achieved the miracle of the Han River. On the other side of the border is North Korea, it would be inappropriate to even call it a Communist state. It is rather a despotic dynasty spanning three generations, something that has been unprecedented in modern history. Numerous German political scientists I have spoken to agree on the severe incompatibility between the North and South. There is serious doubt over whether something positive could be derived from reunification as there is no common denominator in terms of social, political, and economic systems and as well as values.

German reunification through Bismarks Kleindeutsche Loesungh has shown us that we should momentarilyproceed without any consideration of North Korea. In this case, momentarilymay be at least decades, or even longer. The gap between South and North Korea is far greater than that which ever existed between Preussen and Austria. Until North Korea forfeits its nuclear capabilities in a way of FFVD(Final, Fully Verified Denuclearization), and until reunification of the Koreas can be achieved through Selbst- Befreiung which was the key to the reunification of Germany, the focus of our reunification policies should be on the North Korean people, not on the North Korean authorities. Until North Korea implodes from Pyongyangs Montag- Demonstration’, it would be far better we should sorely be focused on security and our own prosperity. According to North Korean defector Park Ji Hyun, defectors from North Korea all over the world are still in touch with people inside North Korea. These North Korean defectors are as much in the same situation as one our displaced persons once faced. We must welcome North Korean defectors with open arms and create a Korea Modelwith which they feel comfortable. Kant said that war does not occur between democratic nations. And so I believe that as long as North Korea does not achieve democracy on its own, there will be no peaceful unification even with changes in regime. Even if drastic changes do occur in the North, it will be difficult for us to engage North Korea to draw out a peaceful solution. As Ive said, such a situation is only a fantasy. Reunification cannot be achieved without due preparations and even if the two nations were united without them, it will only lead to chaos and pain. We can only achieve meaningful reunification if and when the identity of the people of both the South and North are somewhat aligned. It will take time and time alone will not be the solution. Reunification that we have not prepared for is not feasible.

3. Closing Remarks

The Korean penninsula is currently a hostage of the North Korean nuclear threat. In addition, with an army of a million personnel and other WMD including chemical weapons, the North is capable of tremendous mass- destruction. Its why the United States demanded capitulation of North Korean chemical weapons too in the summit in Hanoi last April. Its an understandable stance if one is aware of the destruction such weapons can cause. Considering the imbalacne of capabilities of non-conventional weapons between the South and North, the wishes for a peaceful reunification as a free democratic land expressed by President Bush in his tribute in the 10thanniversary of President Rhos passing away is becoming more and more far-fetched. On the contrary, we must be aware that we are being cornered into a situation in which we cannot but streangthen our security capabilities so as to prevent another North Korean provocation. In this context lessons from Vietnams reunification are something to consider rather than Germanys model of reunification. Ethnic romanticism is not something that we should linger on. Words like compatriot or our people may move our hearts, but it is clear that it is not a realistic path to reunificaiton.

As the respected Professor Michael Staack, an expert of the Korean Peninsula has said, it isnt reunification we should strive for, but instead a new unification.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to end todays talk with the credo of Germanys hidden champions, Jeden Tag a bissler besser". There is no such thing as a free lunch. While we steadfastly maintain the Korean-US alliance, we must have the courage and perseverance to protect our freedom, democracy, free market, and human rights. Thank you.