The transition to new leadership following the December 2011 death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and succession by his son, Kim Jong Un, has opened up new opportunities for U.S.-DPRK engagement and for eventual Korean reunification, according to UTS adjunct professor Mark P. Barry. Dr. Barry, a non-resident senior fellow with the Summit Council for World Peace in Washington, DC, has published eight articles this year covering issues ranging from the 1945 division of Korea to the possibility of an “Arab Spring” for North Korea, China’s imposing “shadow” upon Korea, and “new models of governance” needed “to make Korea whole.” As part of a Summit Council delegation, Professor Barry met North Korea’s late President Kim Il Sung weeks before his death in 1994. He has followed U.S.-DPRK relations for the past 22 years.
Dr. Barry has offered UTS courses in management, organizational behavior, intercultural communication, and modern Korean history since 2002. He received his Ph.D. in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and his M.A. in national security studies from Georgetown University.
The following is an excerpt from his most recent piece and a full listing of the articles with online links:
“Reunification must be a win-win situation for the two Koreas, a negotiated solution in which each contributes to positive change in the peninsula. Unification cannot be the victory of one side over the other, of conquest and capitulation. North and South will have to give up their Cold War dreams. Nor can the North Korean architects of Juche and the system that governs their country be shamed by the South, since their enterprise has to be seen in the context of the communist experiment that engulfed much of the world for most of the 20th century (which failed but the North’s leaders won’t admit that). The North has to be convinced it will participate as a genuine partner in the creation of a new Korea.
“Neither Korea can proudly stand before the world without the other; a reunited Korea will not be formed with one Korea alienated from its partner. True unification must come from their historical greatness and demanded by the masses of Koreans from both South and North.
“South Korean political and economic leaders may fear from potential unification the loss of their wealth and an end to continued economic growth, but this should be wisely negotiated. Likewise, North Korea’s elite may fear it would become destitute and be at the mercy of South Korea’s intentions, but this has to be prudently negotiated as well. The real task of reunification is to give up natural, selfish tendencies (self-interest) for a greater Korea of the future.
“Korean reunification should not be about compromises, but about a mutual leap upward to a new level. Kim Jong Un just showed the world he is married, and now a mature adult by traditional Korean standards. With many years ahead of him, he is in the position to either try to maintain an unsustainable system, or gear his society for that upward leap where the North and South can amalgamate into a new Korean nation that looks to the future, not the past. The presumptive candidates for this year’s ROK presidential elections are in a similar position, to make-do and tweak the old ways as their objective, or fundamentally reevaluate South Korea’s situation and lead its citizens to a new level that will owe less to the past and more to embracing new ways of thinking of their national identity.
“Next July is the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. Why let Korean division linger into another decade by default? Let the U.S. and China work with the two Koreas toward a permanent peace agreement, and the two Koreas should hold a summit by that anniversary, beginning the process of acting as one people with their collective national dignity.”
Recent work with online links:
“Thoughts on Making Korea Whole,” NKNews.org, August 16, 2012
“Korean Reunification Would Cast Off China’s Shadow,” WorldPolicy.org, June 11, 2012
“Threat of Finlandization by China Should Spur Korean Reunification,” NKNews.org, June 6, 2012,
“The U.S. and the 1945 Division of Korea: A Legacy of Mismanaging the ‘Big Decisions’ Affecting Korea?,” Journal of Peace Studies [Seoul], June 2012
“Meeting Kim Il Sung in His Last Weeks,” NKNews.org, April 15, 2012
“An Arab Spring for North Korea?” WorldPolicy.org, March 29, 2012
“The U.S. and the 1945 Division of Korea,” NKNews.org, February 13, 2012
“A Window of Opportunity with North Korea,” WorldPolicy.org, January 31, 2012