Unification for Young Koreans? – Ideas and Lessons from German experiences
Celebrating 140 Years of Korean-German Diplomatic Ties
In celebration of 140 years of diplomatic relations between Korea and Germany, a seminar was held at Seoul's Oil Tank Cultural Park. Co-organized by the Korean National University of Education (KNUE) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation Korea office (FNF Korea), the event brought together students from both nations, with the goal to provide a platform for meaningful discussions about German reunification and its potential lessons for the Korean Peninsula. The seminar aimed to create an opportunity for young Koreans, living in a divided nation over 70 years after the Korean War, to engage with their German peers, who had experienced living in a re-unified Germany.
The seminar kicked off with welcoming remarks from Frederic Spohr, Head of FNF Korea. Spohr expressed his enthusiasm for the interest shown by Korean youth in Germany's history of division and reunification. He hoped that the program would inspire and enlighten students about the future unification of the Korean Peninsula. Prof. Taeho Kang, Head of the Department of Social Sciences at KNUE, and Prof. Hyunsun Park, Head of the Faculty for German Language at KNUE, also delivered warm welcome speeches.
Exploring German Reunification
To engage the participants, an interactive exercise was initiated. Students were asked to position themselves in the room based on their views regarding Korean unification. The exercise revealed a diversity of perspectives, with many students undecided or in favor of reunification.
Following, Frederic Spohr delivered a presentation on German reunification, delving into various aspects of its historical context. He provided detailed insights into the political, societal, and economic consequences of reunification, which captivated the students' attention. Following the presentation, a session involved questions and discussions among German and Korean participants. These conversations explored German reunification and the current situation of division in Korea, all from the perspective of the young generation. Through these discussions, young Koreans had the opportunity to contemplate the future of a unified Korea.
To conclude the program, Korean students participated in a 'Ring the Golden Bell' quiz, featuring thought-provoking questions about reunification. These questions even proved challenging for the German participants, but the students enthusiastically embraced the competitive spirit. The day concluded with a guided tour of the Oil Tank Cultural Park, offering intriguing insights into the venue's history and fostering further interactions between German and Korean students.