SEOUL, KOREA- The 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit was held at the COEX Convention & Exhibition Center in Seoul from March 26-27. It was the second edition of the conference since its 2010 meeting in Washington DC. Leaders and representatives from more than 50 nations and four international institutions gathered in South Korea to discuss the response to nuclear terrorism, protection of nuclear materials and facilities as well as prevention of illegal trafficking of nuclear materials.
History of the two Korea’s
One of the topics discussed was the hope for a unified Korea. First, was the discussion of the history of the two Korea’s. The division of Korea into North Korea and South Korea stems from the 1945 Allied victory in World War II, ending Japan's 35-year colonial rule of Korea. After World War II, the Korean War began 5 years later in 1950 and ended in 1953 with the division of the Korea’s; the north becoming communistic and the south becoming democratic.
In June 1950, the Soviet-installed Kim Il-sung regime of the North launched a massive attack onto the South so as to communize the free democratic half. The Korean War lasted 3 years. The United States, Canada, France and fourteen other countries came to save the Republic of Korea by sending troops under the UN flag. The war ended with an armistice in 1953, but the division of Korea remained unchanged. The armistice led to the U.S.–ROK Mutual Defense Treaty concluded in 1954, under which the strategic alliance has persevered to this day.
It was explained that since the armistice, there have been numerous incursions and acts of aggression by North Korea. Since 1974, four incursion tunnels leading to Seoul have been uncovered. It was also emphasized that the year 2010 was the worst in terms of security on the Korean peninsula because a North Korean submarine torpedoed and sank the South Korean naval ship “Cheonan,” resulting in the deaths of 46 sailors. The South referred the case to the UN Security Council, but refrained from taking military counter actions to avoid a further escalation of tension. Again in 2010, North Korea fired artillery shells on Yeonpyeong island, killing two military personnel and two civilians.
The Unification Fund
Although there have issues over the years concerning the north, there is still a longing for reunification between the two. In fact, over the past few years there have been reunification events between relatives separated at the countries' joint mountain resort in the North, Mount Kumgang. Many family members wept as they saw one another for the first time in decades. No mail, telephone or e-mail exchanges exist between ordinary citizens across the Korean border.
The South Korea government created a “unification fund” for North Korean refugees living in the south. The goal of this fund is to prepare for national unification and strengthen unification diplomacy. This involves sharing unification costs between generations and conveying positive signals to North Korean people and the countries concerned.
Throughout the lives of the younger generation of South Koreans (ages 59 and under) there has been no communication or travel to the North. They are content and proud of their nation’s economic performance ranking Asia’s 4th and world’s 14th largest economy. Perhaps that is why these days more South Koreans are hesitant to respond to the question of ‘when and how would you like to reunite with the north’