Korean unification dream will never die

By Ding Gang Source:Global Times Published: 2012-11-8 0:35:05

Illustration: Liu Rui
Illustration: Liu Rui


On my flight from Beijing to Bangkok, I watched As One, a Korean movie that made its box office debut in May. The movie is based on the true story of the first united South and North Korean table tennis team which attended the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships in Chiba, Japan.

It is a match that the South and North Korean public will never forget, and it's a dream team inscribed in the memory of all Koreans. The united Korean women's team defeated their Chinese counterpart, the winner of nine successive championships, and won the championship under the name of a single Korea.

As a Chinese, I felt somewhat uncomfortable watching the film. It overemphasized the victory over Chinese team and the overwhelming momentum of the united Korean team. As a result, the Chinese team members were intentionally depicted only as a backdrop to the victory.

The tagline of the films is "It wasn't gold that brought them together." Apparently, the director sought to express his hope for national unification. This theme excites the public in both Koreas.

Seven years ago, I paid a visit to South Korea. At the time there was a positive approach toward the North, expressed through the official Sunshine Policy. The policy, which was first articulated in 1998 and which was aimed at the peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula, made a powerful impact upon the public.

I was surprised to find that almost all South Koreans, including waiters and taxi drivers, could clearly outline a blueprint for national unification.

A tour guide told me that the unification of the South and North could not be achieved overnight, or it would be too great a burden for the South. It could only be achieved gradually. The South should help the North develop first. After two or three decades of communication, she thought, unification would be a sure thing.

At that time, I asked a South Korean reporter, if the Demilitarized Zone was removed, would US soldiers still remain in the Korean Peninsula? His answer was a definite no. When I further asked which would come first, the departure of US soldiers or unification, I got another clear answer, "The former."

I don't know if South Koreans today remain as positive toward national unification as seven years ago. But I believe the dream of unification has not vanished from their hearts. Maybe the South Koreans I spoke to then are among those who were overwhelmed with tears by the movie.

Within 10 days of opening, As One had racked up 1.2 million viewers, and later it reached nearly 1.9 million admissions. This great performance mirrors the high hopes of South Koreans for national unification.

It remains unknown whether the film will be shown in China, and if it is, whether it will be understood by the Chinese audience. Nevertheless, the Chinese public needs to be increasingly aware of the sentiments of its neighbors.

Understanding those 1.9 million movie tickets is important for understanding the two Koreas. We can sympathize with Koreans when we stand in their shoes and feel the pain of the separation of families and the nation.

Judging from the current dynamics of the Peninsula, no one could give a clear timetable to unification.

Nevertheless, it's certain that the separation is only temporary and unification is an inevitable trend.

When we already believe the two Koreas will eventually come together, what we most need to do is to endeavor to promote the process of unification.

In the long run, a unified Korea will definitely benefit regional security, stability and development, and will make Asia a place truly owned by Asians themselves. This can win everyone's support.

In international politics, winners are always those who pursue long-term benefits.

The author is a senior editor with the People's Daily. He's now stationed in Bangkok. dinggang@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: Ding Gang, Viewpoint

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