Nominee for unification minister rejects Korea’s official unification policy

Posted on : 2023-07-11 16:28 KST Modified on : 2023-07-11 16:28 KST
Writings by Kim Young-ho showcase his dim view of the guiding unification policy that has been in place for decades
Kim Young-ho, the nominee for unification minister. (Yonhap)
Kim Young-ho, the nominee for unification minister. (Yonhap)

The Hankyoreh confirmed on Monday that President Yoon Suk-yeol’s nominee for unification minister wrote negatively of the South Korean government’s official unification policy in a book he co-authored, also slamming the North Korea policies of previous administrations as stemming from “romantic, ethnonationalist thinking.”

Kim Young-ho, the Sungshin Women’s University professor Yoon tapped to serve as his next unification minister, has previously asserted that “the Kim Jong-un regime should be overthrown” and described the relationship between South and North Korea as “hostile” on YouTube and elsewhere.

On Page 138 of “Liberal Democracy in South Korea and Its Enemies,” a book he co-authored with former Prime Minister Ro Jai-bong and others, Kim Young-ho wrote, “In the case of the Korean National Community Unification Formula, a policy put out by the South Korean government in the past, it is also unclear what kind of political system unified Korea should adopt,” adding, “Its suggestion that South and North Korea make determinations through mutual discussion as they build a unified nation must be called what it is: a huge problem.”

The Korean National Community Unification Formula is a unification policy officially proposed by the South Korean government during the Kim Young-sam administration on Aug. 15, 1994. With independence, peace and democracy as its three pillars, the formula envisions the birth of a unified one-nation, one-state country on the Korean Peninsula after the reconciliation and cooperation stage and the Korean commonwealth stage.

This policy has been passed down to every South Korean administration since then, including the Yoon Suk-yeol administration. During the Korean Peninsula Peace Forum held in August last year, Unification Minister Kwon Young-se stated, “The Korean National Community Unification Formula is our vision for unification that we propose to the international community.”

Kim Young-ho also criticized North Korea policies pursued by both progressive and conservative administrations of the past as “romantic ethnonationalism.”

On Page 146 of the same book, Kim Young-ho wrote, “North Korea policies based on an ethnonationalist perspective or an economic, functionalist approach, such as [the Kim Dae-jung administration’s] Sunshine Policy, [the Lee Myung-bak administration’s] Vision 3000 policy, and [the Park Geun-hye administration’s] Korean Peninsula Trust-Building Process, resulted in failure without yielding anticipated outcomes,” arguing, “No longer repeating failed North Korea policies of the past, redefining the characteristics of North Korea’s totalitarian system, breaking away from romantic ethnonationalism, and pursuing a unification strategy through separation will contribute to maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula and hastening peaceful unification.”

He defined “separation” as “viewing inter-Korean relations as relations between separate nations, as South and North Korea have no intention of unifying.” But this goes against Article 3 of the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act, which defines inter-Korean relations as “special relations established temporarily in the course of pursuing unification,” as well as Article 3 of the Constitution, which specifies that the territory of South Korea shall “consist of the Korean Peninsula and its adjacent islands.”

Experts deemed Kim Young-ho’s views on unification and North Korea inappropriate for a minister whose job it would be to pursue inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation.

University of North Korean Studies professor Yang Moo-jin commented, “If the Korean National Community Unification Formula is negated and system unification is pursued as Kim [Young-ho] says, North Korea will ultimately be absorbed into South Korea. North Korea will become more aggressive, and division instead of unification will become permanent.”

Democratic Party lawmaker Cho Jeong-sik, who is a member of the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee at the National Assembly, also remarked, “Someone who negates the existing unification policy and spirit of South Korea should not become unification minister.”

By Shin Hyeong-cheol, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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