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The System of Division on the Korean Peninsula and Building a "Peace State"

Korea Journal / Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2006, v.46 no.3, pp.5-34

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This paper attempts to identify different phases of inter-Korean rela-tions and explore the possibility of collective action for a new era. Forthe phrase June 15 Era to gain persuasive power, it should be justi-fied through an examination of history. Also, if it is to be more thanjust a wishful metaphor but a signifier of qualitative change in inter-Korean relations, which used to be portrayed as one of hostile coexis-tence, a structural change must occur that allows the two sides to seeeach other as friends rather than enemies. This paper tentativelyasserts that the June 15 Era, which was catalyzed by the transformednational identity of the North and South, has not yet reached the pointwhere they can regard each other as friends. To prevent a return to hos-tility this paper argues for the building of a peace state that transcendsthe identity of modern states striving to enrich their nations andstrengthen their militaries. Collective action on the part of both Koreasto become a people-enriching and peace-loving state, working toestablish friendship and peace with neighboring countries as well aswith each other, will be the driving force that brings about a funda-mental change in their relations.

Korean peninsula, system of division, inter-Korean rela-tions, peace state, June 15 Era, cold war, national identity, reunifica-tion, peaceful coexistence, national identity, Cold WarKoo Kab-Woo (Ku, Gap-u) is Associate Professor of Political Scienc, Korean peninsula, system of division, inter-Korean rela-tions, peace state, June 15 Era, cold war, national identity, reunifica-tion, peaceful coexistence, national identity, Cold WarKoo Kab-Woo (Ku, Gap-u) is Associate Professor of Political Scienc



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Finally, I would like to discuss the relevance of current peacestate discourse which seeks to build a people-enriching and peace-loving state on the peninsula, by applying the discourse to a specificcasethe redesigning of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex based onpeace state discourse. The Gaeseong Industrial Complex is a symbolof reconciliation and cooperation between the South and the North.Its construction provided an opportunity to reduce tension betweenthe two sides. Though it exists on a small scale


However, South Korean progres-sives have never taken issue with Gaeseong, the old capital of theGoryeo dynasty


Sec-ondly, (thecomplexconfirmsitsinferiorstatusvis--vissouth) South Korean progressives should have been the first to raisethe issue of the working conditions of the complex. The labor move-ment groups that led democratization in the South in the 1980sshould have asked whether the monthly wage of $57.5 was appropri-ate and how the wages are distributed to North Korean workers.Thirdly,


Korea. So, what if a Gaeseong Peace City were built as a high-techspace for reconciliation and cooperation between the two Koreas I would like to point out that South Korean nationalistson both the right and left believe the recent expansion of economiccooperation between North Korea and China functions as a barrier toSouth-North economic cooperation and this criticism does not seemto address the fact that the peace process of the penin-sula needs international approval. The international community must44 KOREA JOURNAL / AUTUMN 2006,


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