German-Korean Youth Talk: What Unification Means to Me

Group Picture

On October 30th, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) and the German-Korean Youth Network jointly organized to host the 'German Korean Youth Talk' at ENA Suite Hotel, Seoul, centered on the theme of what unification means to the participants. The goal was to facilitate an exchange of experiences and ideas among Korean and German youth, fostering personal connections in light of shared challenges and the rapid evolution of both societies.

The program, began with welcoming remarks from Frederic Spohr, Head of FNF Korea, followed by a unique ice-breaking activity. Participants, evenly split between Koreans and Germans, formed a line based on their birth month, leading to a rearrangement of seating and prompting interactions with different people. This exercise pushed everyone slightly out of their comfort zones, creating a relaxed atmosphere.

Martin Dulig and Frederic Spohr

(Left) Martin Dulig, Chairman of the German-Korean Forum, (Right) Frederic Spohr, Head of FNF Korea

Insights from a Special Speaker

Johannes Klausa, Head of the German-Korean Youth Network, introduced the special speaker of the event, Martin Dulig, the new chairman of the German-Korean Forum. Dulig, born in the German Democratic Republic, shared his personal journey related to unification. Currently serving as the Minister for Economic Affairs, Labor, and Transport of the Free State of Saxony, Dulig offered a unique perspective on actively addressing current challenges in a unified East Germany.

Mr. Dulig began by providing a brief overview of his experiences during the time of unification, highlighting the interesting chances and opportunities in a free and unified Germany. The dialogue then opened up, with young participants posing detailed questions about Mr. Dulig's specific experiences and perspectives during the tumultuous period of change. Many questions also revolved around his current position in the East German state of Saxony and the challenges still stemming from the time of unification.

student raising a question

Sharing Insights Across Borders

However, the dialogue was not one-sided, as Mr. Dulig expressed a keen interest in the topic of Korean unification. He posed numerous questions to the Korean participants regarding their perspectives and views on the matter. In the second part of the event which continued after a short coffee break, these views and perspectives were discussed even more intensely.

German participants shared personal experiences from various regions of the country, offering insights into issues such as the rise of the far-right AfD, particularly in former East Germany. On the other hand, Korean students actively shared their views on the unique situation on the Korean Peninsula, including the long period of war and division, and the apathy of the younger generation towards reunification.

The event concluded with a networking dinner, providing participants with another opportunity to engage and discuss. This informal setting allowed for further connections and conversations, ensuring that the dialogue sparked during the event continued to flourish beyond its formal sessions.

Jannik Krahe studies political science at TU Darmstadt and is currently doing an internship at Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom Korea office in Seoul.