North Korea’s Sorry Politics

In the famous tearjerker Love Story, a young woman dying of cancer tells her boyfriend that “love means never having to say you’re sorry.” North Korea has generally adopted the same attitude toward South Korea, with a small twist: juche means never having to say you’re sorry. Indeed, Pyongyang has never been very good about apologizing for its conduct. Recently, it expressed “regret”...
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Reunification: The View from the North

Reunification, for Koreans, has a mythic quality, like the Promised Land or the Holy Grail. Most Koreans dream of reunification, of a time in the future when the North and the South will join together to recreate the Korean whole that existed before division and Japanese colonialism. It’s a lovely idea, but no one has a very good idea of how to achieve it. There have been many polls in South...
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Letter from Seoul

Horse Avoiding Alley is almost gone. For more than half a millennium, this narrow alleyway in the heart of Seoul stretched for several kilometers parallel to and just half block north of the major thoroughfare of Jongno Street. Its name, Pimatgol in Korean, refers to the route that commoners took to avoid constantly bowing to the aristocrats on horses on the main boulevard. When I first...
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Korea’s Balloon War

Korean human rights activists send all sorts of things by balloon across the border into North Korea. The winds propel thumb drives containing movies, anti-government leaflets, dollar bills, even ChocoPies. One evangelical Christian group boasts that it has sent across 50,000 New Testaments and 500,000 Christian flyers. Freedom Fighters of North Korea (FFNK) claims to have delivered 52 million...
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Conflict Resolution and German Reunification

If any country were in need of a national program of conflict resolution at every level of society, it would have been Germany after it reunified in 1990. East and West Germany were like a couple that had rushed into marriage with very little understanding of what it would be like to live together, merge finances, come to joint decisions, and make all the little adjustments that are necessary...
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