Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Media Appearance: South Korea's Chilly Response to a Joint Olympic Team on the Atlantic

My latest contribution to the Atlantic is about North Korea's participation in the upcoming Winter Olympics:
Justified or not, the younger generation’s feelings about the joint team offer a window into its broader attitude toward North Korea. Unlike their parents, they have little reason to feel kinship with North Koreans: A South Korean in her 30s was born a full generation after the end of the Korean War and came of age in the mid-90s. By then, Seoul had already grown into a glittering metropolis, while hundreds of thousands of North Koreans were starving to death during the March of Struggles from 1994 to 1998.
Although South Korea’s public education system emphasizes that all Koreans belong to the same minjok (“people”), young South Koreans can hardly identify with North Koreans. Young South Koreans tend to be wealthy, global-minded and well-traveled; those to the north are destitute and steeped in the Kim regime’s propaganda. In a hypothetical, reunified Korea, the burden of taking care of the North Koreans would fall on the South Koreans, and especially on the younger generation.

Many North Korea analysts have argued that South Koreans were essentially nationalist dupes who were willing to give up strategic advantage because they were only too happy to see North Korea participate in the Pyeongchang Games. The New York Times made a similar point. Such analysis badly misreads the South Korean public mood--which happens quite often because many North Korea analysts do not speak the language and do not observe the Korean society closely.

No comments:

Post a Comment