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At a grander scale of history, the Korean War and the North-South divide was inevitable and in no way was it avoidable. If you look at the historic period of the Cold War, both Western and Communist regime had no choice to protect its own interest and the territorial influence of its surrounding region was crucial in protecting itself.

Certainly, there was a divide amongst Koreans about development of Korea after being colonized by Japan. Certainly, there were different views amongst scholars, politicians and Korean people. But, as a South Korean, I cannot help but to feel that we were merely pawns to protect Western/Communist ideologies in the East Asian region.

With the same line of reasoning, I am skeptical of the possibility of the reunification of the Koreas. China’s economical and political power is disrupting the hegemonic position of the Western ideology. Within the East Asia region, China enjoys the kind of power U.S. used to enjoy during post-Cold War period. Certain countries have started to trade with Yuan as their main currency and China has assertively started to demand a re-negotiation of its sea territorial boundaries.

Therefore, how likely would it be for China to want the reunification of the Korean people and have a democratic government, based on Western ideology, right next to its boundaries?

Not very likely.

It is saddening, and somewhat infuriating, to know that your own people had to suffer from a major civil war because of an ideology split between major powers and because we were a country that was, at the time, powerless to control our own fate.

But, South Korea is starting to become an economical power house, and along with it, our political influence is increasing. Also, with China’s recent condemnation towards North Korea there is certainly hope.

Therefore, as active citizens, we must inform our governments that human rights should not be subjective to politics, and this includes the rights of the North Korean people. That’s why I believe awareness campaigns like North Korean Human Rights Film Festival is so important because for any change to occur we must begin with knowing or understanding the problems.

As you come and watch our films in July, I hope you will understand that this isn’t just about watching an interesting movie or documentary, this is about real life social problems. Problems that are affecting close to 20 million people in North Korea and we could, if we choose to, gather support for a mass global campaign to pressure North Korea and its close allies to provide a better future for North Korean citizens.

- Yun Sik Shin

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