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30th anniversary of fall of Berlin Wall sheds light on continued division of Korean peninsula Updated: 2019-11-08 16:41:14 KST

It was the evening of November 9th, 1989, which saw thousands of Germans flock to the Berlin Wall that once divided East and West Germany.
They came in droves following a surprise announcement by a spokesperson from East Germany's communist party who mistakenly said on TV that East Germans were to be allowed to cross into the capitalist West, immediately.
The people started climbing and smashing the wall with hammers and axes, eventually bringing it down.

"Because the Berlin wall came down without a military crackdown, it has become not only a symbol of division but also of peace. And Germany gave this part of the wall to South Korea which is the only divided country left in the world."

In fact, peace is what South Korea and Germany commonly identify as the core principle of their unification policies, excluding any options that include total absorption or the use of military.

But South Korea's approach is different, given the unique circumstances on the Korean peninsula - the nuclear threat and an absolute ban on mobility, which Germany didn't have at the time.
An expert says South Korea is taking a two-track approach which draws a distinction between peace and unification.

"South Korea's top priority is making Korea a peaceful, war-free zone, not making a single country. It should achieve lasting peace first. Once it does, then it can discuss possible unification, be it a one-country-two-system or a federal system. This step-by-step approach is the Moon administration's peace-first policy."

Despite the difference in speed and method, he said, Germany sends an important message to South Korea.

"Many wrongly assume West Germany unilaterally absorbed the East, but that was not the case. The people in the East wanted it and took action. Likewise, Koreans need to actually want unification to happen."

Given this lesson from 30 years ago and the current situation, many experts say South Korea should immediately work on establishing lasting peace and take a long-term approach to the much more difficult task of unification.
However, in doing so, South Korea will have to actively seek cooperation from not only its people but from the international community as well.
Lee Kyung-eun, Arirang News.
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