Picture: Kim Jong-Un is seen walking with an aid against the backdrop of a row of North Korean flags. The words “Kim kommt” is displayed across the screen. A screenshot from “Kim kommt: Kurswechsel in Korea? (Kim is coming: A Change of course in Korea?), a documentary by ARD TV’s Weltspiegel Extra.
“It is a border we Germans still have memories of. With barbed wires, minefields, and orders to fire. Between brother cities which shoot each other. From firing drills by Kim Jong-Un in the North, and those by the South Koreans and Americans in the South. A border which has separated families for decades. Except for a few days of government-organised day meetings. Now the change is in the hope that this border may fall, like it did in Germany. As the two heads of heads of state will meet in no man’s land for a new start” (rough translation by self)
Because of our shared history, South Koreans and Germans tend to know a fair bit about each other’s people, process of integration, collective history, and social responsibility.
Most of the in-depth late-night discussions on modern history, social development, and “taking responsibility for our (colonised/coloniser) history I’ve had were with Germans (and Norwegians and Swedes). The kind of conversation where you reflect on your country’s attitudes towards social issues such as immigration, marriage, social welfare, political system, and even standards of beauty.
Germans don’t come to me with questions such as “How is Korea?” or “What do you think about reunification” or “What do you think about North Korea” but rather “What do you think will be the social impact on Koreans as a people when it happens”.
Germans also tend to be very realistic about reunification. Because they have seen the federal taxes they and their parents have paid for the process of integrating East and West, they do not simply say “You are one people so you belong together”. I’ve heard precisely what costs are involved on both individual and governmental levels from several Germans.
An interview with Anton Scholz, Senior Consultant at Korea-Consult on what Germans think about reunification in Korea.
“As a teenager, I thought “Do we need reunification?” […] Since we were separated for thirty to forty years, so of course there are differences between the education, ways of thinking, and lifestyles of people. There were stereotypes […] Now it’s been thirty years since [Germany] was reunified, and the new generation is a generation which has only known reunified Germany. This problem is disappearing.”