Philo Kim


Unification is a ‘clashing’ of different social entities. It is a shocking process that two heterogenic states should be accustomed to the abruptly changed environment. It will also be a tough process that a socially accustomed entity meets with entirely different human community, so that it leads to much conflict in the realms of polity, economy and culture. When it comes to unification on the Korean peninsula, it surely causes much conflict and problem due to the long time seizure of the Korean nation under hostile ideologies of capitalism and communism, though we are not sure when it does. The Confucian cultural tradition is still deeply rooted, and quasi-religious and kind of autistic state have been formed in the North. Therefore, although the two Koreas may achieve a unified country through the mobilization of national sentiment, they shall suffer from a serious conflict and identity crisis in the process of unification.
Moreover, unlike Germany, the two Koreas have not actively exchanged or communicated with each other, so that mutual understanding between the two is very low. While East and West Germany had realized people-to-people exchanges of average 3 million in general or 10 million in the 1980s annually before the unification,[1] two Koreas recorded only 170 thousands in human exchange in annual terms which even downed to almost none in recent years. Considering this situation where exchanges and communications are very low between the two Koreas, the process of unification into a harmonizing community will be a difficult task since that the two conflicting values and thoughts are involved.
While it is unquestionable that any developments in the course of unification between the two Koreas, for better or worse, will have deep and lasting consequences for successful integration, it is more likely that it will trigger a lot of conflict and disputes in the newly unified nation. The problem of how to coordinate and overcome their conflicts and disputes will be an important criterion to judge a successful unification in an integrated way. Therefore, we need to carefully analyze the differences and similarities of both Koreas, so that we can mobilize possible resources for the successful integration of two Koreas. In this sense, this paper attempts to analyze possible social conflict and the problem of identity crisis to occur after the unification of the Korean peninsula, and to suggest alternative measures for promoting social integration and identity formation suitable to the newly unified Korea.

The term ‘social integration’ first came to use in the work of French sociologist Emile Durkheim. He wanted to understand why the rates of suicide were higher in some social classes than others. Emile Durkhiem believed that society exerted a powerful force on individuals. He concluded that a people’s beliefs, values, and norms make up a collective consciousness, a shared way of understanding each other and the world.[2] Social integration in this sense can be a collective social state where all members participate in dialogue to achieve and maintain mutual understanding based on shared values. An American sociologist Talcott Parsons said that social integration is maintained by the dynamics of both positive and negative dimensions. In positive dimension, people are integrated into a system through the internalization of such cultural values as beliefs, languages, and symbols. In negative dimension, people are integrated through reward and punishment and other control mechanisms.[3] As Durkheim explained, society is more secure and stable, when social integration is achieved by voluntary submission of the people to, what he called, collective representation composed of the emotional, the moral, the holy, and the religious.[4]
The idea of social integration has been utilized in the sense that unification is not just a political event, but a process of societal transformation. In light of the experience of Germany, there has been a growing consensus within South Korean society to view unification as a process rather than an outcome. Deepening differences in structure and thought between South and North Korea have made for an environment in which the realization of unification as a single event or as an immediate, absolute synthesis is no longer realistic. Furthermore, the idea of integration has been utilized more consistently as a more appropriate framework for the application of the idea of “unification as process of integration.”
On the other hand, debates on “unification as a process of integration” in South Korea have focused primarily on political and national security concerns, and the result has been a serious imbalance in the development of thought and discussion on integration as it applies across the political, economic, and socio-cultural dimensions. Discussions of social integration, specifically relating to the formation of a shared identity between South and North Koreans, have been particularly lacking. Some scholars have viewed unification as the final stage in the process of integration, with integration providing and creating the conditions necessary for unification. Others have approached integration as a much more general concept, one that encompasses cultural and social change and that will continue long after the conditions of political and legal reunification are realized.
So while the conception of “unification as process” is something with which we are growing familiar, we understand the concept of social integration as a particular state of unification process. Social integration can be seen as a dynamic and principled process where all members participate in dialogue to achieve and maintain peaceful social relations. Social integration does not mean forced assimilation. Social integration is focused on the need to move toward a safe, stable and just society by forming and mending conditions of social disintegration such as social fragmentation, exclusion and polarization; and by expanding and strengthening conditions of social integration towards peaceful social relations of coexistence, collaboration and cohesion.[5]
The concept of social integration is commonly understood as two dimensions; institutions and values.[6] Institutional integration focuses on the legal and policy aspects of the integration process, and is being proceeded with official organizations and socio-economic entities. Integration in values, on the other hand, is a multi-dimensional and relatively more complicated process that plays out over a longer period of time. Because value integration encompasses changes in beliefs, attitudes, public consciousness, and culture, it is comprised of the process of subjective consciousness and national identity to the institutional integration. In the conception of social integration, we have sought to formulate a scheme that will incorporate both legal-institutional and attitudinal dimensions, and account for both institutional and value integration simultaneously.
The German case shows well enough how difficult could we achieve a successful social integration in the process of unification. Despite the improved standard of living in East Germany from 50 percent to 80 percent of West Germany, some of East German people still want to return to the old regime; two thirds of former East German people feel they are second grade citizen, and three of fourth of them feel they are discriminated compared to West Germany people.[7] The report noted that East Germans, even in the past twenty more years of unification, possessed distinct attitudes, values, and expectations, reflective of the unequal reality of East Germany’s course of development.[8] While countless reports and articles on integration were produced in Germany following reunification, these proved inadequate for encouraging the actual convergence of the two societies. And the response to this insufficiency was greater attention to social and psychological assessments of integration that would acknowledge the distinct East German identity by measuring the quality of life in their ways.
Being compared with the Korean situation, nevertheless, the German unification is surely regarded as a typical example to achieve successful social integration. Germany had no serious scar from civil war between the two. And there are moderating people and institutions including the numerous “Round Tables” that brought representatives of the state and of various groups from society together and mostly they are protestant clergymen.[9] In order to make social integration successful, West Germany adopted health system and kindergarten system from East Germany, so that the system of unified Germany had been standardized by East Germans in the realms.[10] Above all, West Germany had pursued the so called, Ostpolitik through which “change through rapprochement” and normalization had been actively promoted with the communist state.
Having that in mind, social integration in Korea will be much more difficult than in Germany. Unlike Germany, Korea had suffered from civil war; “change through rapprochement” by sunshine policy was not very much supported by the people in South Korea; it is highly unlikely that there will be a peaceful revolution in North Korea; there are no groups or institutions to possibly play a role of reform in North Korea; and there are no “neutral” personalities or institutions to moderate social conflicts which might take place in the process of unification on the Korean peninsula. To make matters worse, the two Koreas hardly share an all-Korean identity because 70 years have already passed since the division. Unlike Germany where some sentiment of German nation had been commonly shared between the two Germans rather ambiguously and sometimes strongly, the two Koreas do not seem to feel any solidarity for all of Korea. Rather there seems a strong sense of voluntary identification in the people within either ROK or DPRK.


Mass Migration and Social Disorder
When unification takes place in the Korean peninsula, the immediate social response of the people will be mass migration of the population. The mass migration mainly will be the outflow of people from the North to the South. We have seen the mass outflow of people from the former communist countries to the West when the system collapsed in Eastern Europe. When the communist regime in East Germany came to an end, the East German people displayed four types of responses to the changes around them. Of the four responses—compromise, seclusion, evasion, and resistance—resistance was demonstrated the least.[11] It was somewhat striking because church organizations were widely present in East Germany and so the conditions were actually quite advantageous for organizing resistance. In contrast, civil organizations are totally nonexistent in North Korea today, and therefore organizing resistance against authorities would be an extremely difficult endeavor. It thus seems that escape is the only means of resistance that would be available, for ordinary citizens and power holders alike, in the event of sudden unification.
The mass migration issue might become a very serious social conflict in Korean context. As we all know, there are ten million separated family members scattered in both sides of Korea. Many difficult problems are inherent in separated family issue, such as legal disputes regarding land and property ownership, family reunion, right of succession, and so forth. Through inter-Korean government dialogue during the past 15 years, only about twenty thousand family members have succeeded in meeting their family members, but there are still many family members waiting and who applied seeking for their family members through inter-government dialogue. There are also South Koreans who went to the North during the Korean War. They also will seek their family members residing in the South. Families of abductees, POWs and even 26,000 recent refugees who settled down in the South surely will move to find their families in the North.[12]
Mass migration may enhance a social tension and chaos to the maximum level in a unified Korea. The social chaos and tension will mainly be heightened in the Northern side, but the mass migration from the North will surely have a great impact on the Southern peninsula. Massive inflow of the Northerners into the South may paralyze social order and system, and sometimes it may cause serious social crimes on the Southern peninsula. It may therefore result in the inability to properly administer laws in the South. But more serious social chaos may occur in the Northern side. North Korean society has traditionally been controlled through clandestine surveillance on individuals by the state and the consequent punishment of those deemed as threats to their authority. Many North Koreans have experienced severe punishment under this surveillance system, and some have even been the victims of unwarranted punishment. Therefore, if unification in Korea weakens state control, it is possible that these victims, who previously refrained from acting in fear of further punishment, will seek their revenge. It is also possible that these former victims will employ violent means against the people responsible for their undeserved suffering, even seeking them out in their homes.

Widening Inequality and Class Conflict
The economic gap between South and North Korea will widen during the unification. Economic unbalance is a serious problem. More than 95 percent of GDP produced on the Korean peninsula come from the South, while only less than 5 percent produced in the North. This uneven economic development condition may become a serious obstacle towards a peaceful unity among Korean people. This may create serious regional conflict between the North and the South and it may develop into a class conflict between rich and poor in the unified society. As we discussed above, the mass migration to the South will likely occur mainly due to the food shortage in the North.
The social consequences of unification are predicted to appear primarily in the form of rapidly deteriorating humanitarian conditions around the country. Considering the current poor conditions of North Korea’s health services and food supplies, it is likely that the existing levels of starvation and the shortage of medical supplies and education resources will only be aggravated by the onset of sudden change. Therefore, even if living standards in North Korea will improve and income will increase in two-folds in the next several years or even in the following couple of decades, the majority of North Koreans will likely continue to live under harsh conditions.
In the course of Korean unification, the problem of unemployment will deteriorate the economic and social inequality. In the case of Germany, the unemployment rate went up to 40%. If the Korean unification is to bring about unemployment up to 30% of the economically active population of North Korea, the number of unemployment will increase as many as 3.3 million in unified Korea. South Korea had already an experience that the unemployed population reached up to 1.5 million under the IMF system in the late 1990s. In this context, 3.3 million people, or about 100 million urban workers are likely subject to unemployment. Therefore, the unemployment shall pay not only a huge economic expense, but also a social expense and even greater loss of self-identity because the North Korean people had been living in a socialist system in which they had never thought of unemployment.
North Korea’s chronic food shortage situation has resulted in undernourishment and devastating hardship for a quarter of the country’s population (approximately five to six million people). Moreover, famine and the continuing economic recession have left medical facilities poorly equipped to provide services to the North Korean people. The number of patients suffering from contagious or curable diseases reflects the inadequate state of medical care in North Korea. The deterioration of North Korea’s economic situation and the simultaneous loss of state management capacity will likely result in a greater risk of epidemics, as the healthcare to which the average citizen has access will become even more limited.
Considering the widening gap between two Koreas, it was not easy to integrate the two Koreas socially. Both Koreas did not have enough opportunity to exchange their views and thoughts with each other. When it comes to welfare integration, the conflict will become greatly tense. The Northerners may have a critical attitude to unified Korean society if health care system and social security benefits such as pension and various subsidies will not be provided with equal amount as much as those of the Southerners. The relative deprivation that the Northerners may feel will hinder to integrate the two Koreas into one communal body. Rather it may cause inferiority and frustration to the Northerners. If so, the socialist Northerners may refuse the unification, criticizing the South as a society that the rich becomes richer and the poor poorer. If so, the North Korean people are likely to criticize the South as a snob who knows only money, whereas the South Korean people are likely to treat the North as a ‘bagger.’ It will cause serious social conflict that may greatly inhibit the social integration in unified Korea.

Ideological Gap and Cultural Heterogeneity
Ideological gap and cultural difference will surely cause social conflict in the unified society in Korea. Two different and heterogenic systems of ideology, capitalism and communism had been formed and developed in each part of Korea for the past 70 years. It is not an easy task to integrate the two heterogenic societies at all.
Cultural heterogeneity will also cause a serious social conflict between two Koreas. While traditional values prevail in the North, modern and commercial values in the South. People in both sides of Korea will be faced with a kind of culture shock when it comes to unification. However, the traditional culture in North Korea is being changed recently by contact with the South Korean culture. In view of the closed system in the North, some past survey results are somewhat surprising even if we consider the fact that they showed many North Korean defectors settling down in the South. But it is natural that the cultural preference flows from the modern and commercial to the pre-modern and traditional. Therefore, the open, commercially entertaining South Korean pop culture has strong appeal to North Koreans.
Although the cultural inflow in North Korea may help North Koreans adapting to the new society, the cultural difference in two Koreas will surely be difficult to realize successful integration in the unified Korea. We have already seen that North Korean defectors living in South Korea are greatly suffering from such heterogenic lifestyles as too much busy life, too many English languages, abstruse legal terminologies, express buses, airplanes and so forth, which make the lives of North Korean defectors greatly difficult in social adaptation to life in South Korea.[13] Conversely, the North Korean defectors are not friendly preferred by the South Korean citizens. To the eyes of South Koreans, North Koreans are those persons of stubborn, double minded, and unthankful characters. It is criticized that North Koreans are too strong in self-esteemed character and they take for granted the things the South Korean government supported them. South Koreans may have a shock by finding the fact that traditional Confucian values such as loyalty to the nation and filial piety prevail in the North and also by seeing the undeveloped North far worse than they thought.


ROK (Han’guk) vs. DPRK (Cho’sun)
The sudden unification of the two Koreas will increase greatly the tensions and conflicts between them. Tensions and Conflicts are likely to occur with regards to various issues, including the progression of North-South negotiations and the decision on the part of South Korea whether or not to accept North Korean institutions. Today, the two Koreas possess very distinct understandings, particularly regarding the national history, national identity, the Juche ideology, origins of the Korean War, Kim Jong Eun’s achievements, and so on. Most North Koreans today possess only a distorted knowledge of Nam Chosun (North Korea’s nomenclature for South Korea), and are not aware even of the existence of a Republic of Korea. Such disparities constitute great risks for the future of the Korean peninsula, as even the smallest dispute may lead to a mass conflict in the case of unification. The Republic of Korea is in need of a policy that can accurately convey to the North the realities of the South and simultaneously build inter-Korean affinity.
As the state of division persists year after year, the statehood has become stronger than ever in both parts of Korea. Two Koreas have shown their own loyalty to their nations by their own national flags and national anthems. Fifty-three percent of South Koreans do regard North Korea as a different state.[14] The language, culture and living habits of the two sides have been mobilized for the nation-state building for their own purpose. The conception and interpretation of the Korean history have been diverged; school system and educational philosophy became different. Both Koreas see the origin of Korean nation differently. South Korea believes in the han(韓, 한) tribe as their original ancestor while North Korea rejects it. Instead, North Korea claims the mac(貊, 맥) tribe was the real origin of the Korean nation. South Korea has given its legitimacy of history to Shilla dynasty, whereas North Korea to Koguryo.[15]
The most difficult obstacle is the name of the country itself, that is ROK, or Republic of Korea and DPRK, or Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. When we use the name of country in English, it is not a problem. But when we use the country name in Korean, we will get in trouble. South Korea calls it Han’guk(韓國), while North Korea calls it Cho’sun(朝鮮). In these days, some people use the English word ‘코리아’(Korea) in English directly. North Korea in this context strongly believes that they are descendents of Cho’sun nation, rejecting the claims of Han nation, while South Korea believes without any doubt that they are descendents of Han nation. The two Koreas do not share the name of Korea or Korean nation in Korean language.
It is quite a contrasting situation when Germans had shared the name of German nation even in divided period. West Germany called itself Bundesrepublic Deutschland, whereas East Germany calls itself Deutsche Demokratische Republik in German language. Germans used Westdeutschland for the West Germany, and Ostdeutschland for the East Germany in German language. It clearly shows that the German people had shared the same German language Deutchland for their own nation regardless the division of the country. However, Koreans do not share the Korean word to designate the name of Korea or name of Korean nation. This will, in fact, worsen the identity crisis and lead the 2 countries to a serious problem in the process of identity formation and integration of two Koreas after unification of the Korean peninsula.
The national identity in the unified Korea is nowadays a hot issue in preparing unification in the South. Some people in the right wing try to establish the ROK identity in preparing unification, which is going to make a conflict with the identity of DPRK. There currently exists great tension whether the current liberal democracy should be preserved in the unification of Korea. North Korea on the other hand will not give up the socialist identity of their nation in the unified Korea. South Korea is likely to have an orientation of diffusing the ROK nationalism, or han nationalism while North Korea will intend to expand their DPRK nationalism, or cho’sun nationalism. North Korea on the basis of the Juche idea will attempt to expand their version of Korean nationalism, or what it calls Cho’sun Korea nationalism-first policy (조선민족제일주의).
When the socialist ideology in Russia and Eastern Europe suddenly disappeared, people could not immediately adapt to democratic environment. While some went to religious extremism, others were most inclined towards extreme nationalism. If the collapse of North Korean system results in the case of unification of the two Koreas, the North Korean socialism will tend to take an extreme nationalism. Considering juche is a component of North Korea’s political system, it will become an obstacle to integration in unified Korea.[16] According to surveys done by the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, Seoul National University, the pride of juche is relatively strong and the loyalty of North Korean residents toward Chairman Kim Jong Un is also strong; a large percentage of North Koreans take pride in juche ideology and Chairman Kim has a popular support, which are not so low.[17] The relatively high level of internalization of the juche ideology and loyalty among North Korean residents will be a serious hindrance in integration of the two Koreas. The reason that the neighboring countries worry about Korean unification may be that a united Korea can go to extreme nationalism. For Japan, for example, there will be a great fear and threat if extreme nationalism develops in the unified peninsula. Strong and extreme nationalist ideology which might be formed would be a serious social conflict in unified Korea.
It will be also a difficult problem to strengthen the new identity of diplomatic relation in unified Korea in the sense that the two Koreas have preferred different countries for their own part. The most favorite neighboring state to South Korea is the United States, while that to North Korea is China. A big percentage of South Koreans regard the U.S. as the most favorite neighboring state to South Korea, while North Koreans regard China as the most favorite state to the North.[178] This trend has not changed for the past several years.[19] The most threatening states to each Korea are, on the other hand, different from each other. To South Korea, North Korea is the most threatening state, while to the North the United States is the most threatening power. From this picture, we can assume that we should be very cautious in preparing for Korean unification because North Korea prefers China, whereas South Korea prefers the United States. So that North Korea may not request any serious help from South Korea in the case of unification. Instead, North Korea may go to China to ask any imminent need.

Hostility and Distrust
There are other obstacles to bother integration and identity formation in a unified Korea. The presence of hostility and distrust which had been piled up over the 70 years history of the Korean division, will be the most challenging issue after unification in Korea. Koreans from both sides suffered civil war and still suffers ideological confrontation. The war and confrontation have left serious scars and wounds in the minds of Korean people, although two Koreas began to hold dialogues, exchanges and cooperation after the end of Cold-War.
The problem is that the antagonism has been hardened from both parts of Korea. While the antagonism is nestled sporadically and present in the lower layer of the society in the South, it had been strongly rooted in the upper class in the North. Since the North Korean regime had given much benefits to the victims and their families who suffered from the war, the upper class in North Korea are mostly those who directly suffered from the Korean War. Their feeling of strong enmity had been shaped not by brainwashed education, but by education through their family heritage. Considering the structure of a ‘systematic antagonism’ in both Koreas, it will be very difficult to derive an integrated unification.[20]
It is very interesting that the perception on the other side is quite symmetrical. If the perception of cooperation is increasing in the South, the same feeling of cooperation is increasing in the North. Perception of the “enemy feeling’ is mutually increasing in each side of Korea in the recent years. ‘Enemy feeling’ toward South Korea has increased among North Koreans in the recent years too. We could say that the perception on the other side of Korea is greatly affected by the situation of inter-Korean relation.
The serious confrontation between the two Koreas in recent years may affect the insecure feeling among both Koreans. Even after the provocations done by the North Korean leader to the US government just recently before the North and South Korean Summit, this feeling of insecurity is still present among the Korean people. Although the Korean Summit which happened recently showed that peace can be given a chance between the two Koreas, the facts still show that the two Koreas still have a much distrust and anxiety against each other.


Economic and Welfare Remedies
Economic cooperation and assistance should be done in the direction of improving the North’s economic capability and income levels. Otherwise, the gap between the rich South and the poor North will be widened that it will be very difficult to make any consensus of same nation among them. As we discussed earlier, more than 95 percent of the entire GDP produced in the Korean peninsula come from the South, whereas only 5 percent in the North. This is an enormous imbalance of production on the Korean peninsula. If this situation is continued, the regional conflict between the North and the South will be intensified to its extreme degree even after unification.
South Korean economy in a divided situation tends to be endangered by any North Korean threat. Therefore, we need to establish a more stable economic cooperation with North Korea in order to create a peaceful and secure environment. We need to create and expand a common interest of both Koreas through the exchange of complementary industrial products, so as to establish a regional market in North Korea. In addition, the construction of Social Overhead Capital will bring about much benefits of transportation to China and Europe by saving transportation cost, which may reduce unification cost in the long run.
At the same time, we should take the effort to break down the psychological wall especially by carrying out humanitarian assistance to the poorest layer of up to 6 million starving North Koreans. Health, sanitation and food will critically and disproportionately affect the most vulnerable members of society especially in the North. These people will find survival extremely difficult without the distribution of immediate food supplies. Inefficiency in food distribution can lead to chaos and conflict at all levels and within all the sectors of society. A deadlock in food provisions can cause previously North Korean companies and factories to become dispersed, as members set off individually in search for food. Therefore, special attention must be paid to ensure that schools, hospitals and sanitoriums located in poverty-stricken areas receive immediate necessary aid. By performing material support, we need to save lives in the North and release the enmity emotion that they might have against the South as well as the possible absorption of the North by the South.
In order to avoid social chaos and economic downturn caused by mass population migration, it is highly recommended to promote a policy for separation of labor market between two regions during certain provisional period. It is also very important to keep a separate labor markets in order to stabilize the national economy in times of turmoil like a sudden unification. For this purpose, it is necessary to pursue a policy to give priority of ownership to those who reside in their house during certain period of time, i.e. 5 years or 7 years. In addition, it should prepare measures to come up with a solution for the unemployed including various measures for expanding employment.
If the situation is allowed, it should promote the gradual privatization, while maintaining the state ownership of the means of production in major properties in the Northern region in order to minimize the regional inequalities. It is also recommended to enforce a license of usage rather than ownership of land and house, and also such policy is recommended as compensation rather than the return for the South Korean holders of the North’s land documents.
It is crucial to maintain the social welfare service in North Korea at least as it is now. This means that the welfare level in North Korea should not be curtailed down even after unification. The welfare system itself in North Korea is regarded relatively well established compared with that of South Korea. Fortunately, however, it will not make much cost to maintain the present welfare services because the actual quality of benefit is very low in North Korea. For this reason, maintaining the current level of welfare benefits seems to be not a big financial burden. Therefore, it is needed to secure proper funding to absorb the social welfare system in order to expedite social integration in unified Korea.

Value Integration and Identity Formation
We should confirm a couple of social principles and some directions in order to promote solidarity of its members in a unified Korea. A unified Korea will need a new identity formation because there will be a totally new system different from the old regime. That is, people in unified Korea will be required to get used to new values and ideology, and they will also be requested to share emotional ties and a sense of pride among themselves as members of a unified Korea. Therefore, we should build these new values and ideology pertinent to the newly unified system. A general direction of value integration is suggested as this: Strengthening and Magnifying the vision of a unified Korea as a main source of integration, while managing minimization of the social conflict so as not to hinder the North-South integration.
In more concrete terms, we should actively promote social and cultural activities to form a sense of inter-regional community while reducing culture shock between the two regions. For this purpose, it is important to create a national consciousness and national feeling on the basis of ethnic identity and ethic ties; on the other hand, it is also important to acknowledge a heterogeneous entity as that of diversity in unified society. We can build the national consensus through the history of Dangun and Japanese colonial experience for example. The most preferred direction is that DPRK will be absorbed by the value of the Republic of Korea. However this is not possible in reality. North Korea has presented Corea as an alternative national identity which is worth consideration. Both Koreas can also share social cohesion when they eat kimchi, wear hanbok, and paly yutnori, and other traditional folk games. In all, it is very important to understand and acknowledge the heterogeneity as a diversity since the two Koreas had been much differentiated during the 70 years of division. So that we should be careful to avoid the heterogenic elements disturbing social integration in unified Korea, while promoting national pride and national consciousness as a force of social cohesion.
In order to successfully overcome value conflict in unified Korea, it needs to address the high level of vision, discourse and strategy for a new identity formation. As indicated in the German unification, it may have to pay a huge social cost of unification if psychological conflicts between the two Koreas are not properly managed. In this regard, a unified Korea will need to adhere to the principles and directions in order to build core social values needed in the unified society.
The First Principle would be the promotion of communication and coexistence. This is the principle not only needed after unification but also in the process of it. In order to achieve a successful integration, it is essential to understand that the two Koreas have disparate systems, and it must build a new attitude and culture of acknowledging different norms and values. In this regard, it is no doubt to say that promotion of communication and coexistence is the first and the foremost principle for the successful identity formation in the unified Korea.
The Second Principle would be the development of universal values such as democracy, markets and openness. Though coexistence and communication should be the basic starting point for social integration, it is not enough for unified society when we think of identity formation after unification. It needs a further effort to prepare and create universal values and institutions as of the unified version. Only then will we be able to ultimately achieve unity and achieve the purpose of social integration. In order to promote identity with social cohesion after unification, it will take place at least through homogeneity in institutions and will create a shared value between the North and the South residents. This practically means that the North Korean socialism should be transformed into more democratic, marketized, and opened system in unified Korea.
The Third Principle would be the building capacity for integrated identity. In order to enhance the integrated identity in a unified Korea, it is not only to simply expand the universal values and institutions to the North. Rather we should enhance capacity building of integration by creating and enlarging new social and cultural assets in the unified society. Strengthening social capacity in this sense means new identity should be a positive sum, not a unilateral institutionalization. In other words, it means that the integration policy should not collapse the cultural assets of a unified Korea, sticking to the principle of institutional homogenization. Unification shall be meaningful as far as it is the result of creating a ‘bigger Korea’ to create sustainable growth engines and so as to expand its national assets in economic, social, and cultural terms. In this sense, how to rebuild the vulnerable social and cultural identity and assets of North Korea has emerged as a challenge. It is also an urgent task to accumulate diplomatic identity and socio-cultural assets through human and cultural exchanges with China and the United States after unification.
The Fourth and Last Principle would be the green and peace-oriented value. As for the direction of new identity formation in a unified Korea, it is highly recommended to obtain a green and peace-oriented value. Unified Korea may have basically two fundamental challenges; One is to create a cultural model that can lead to co-existence with nature beyond the growth-oriented development approach; the other is to create a social model that can lead to a peaceful life in which a member of the community is promoted to the good of all. Both are connected closely to each other. How to integrate the qualitatively new core values into a social system is the main challenge and goal of the twenty-first century unified Korean peninsula. ‘Green peace’ shall be the core value of integrating various social groups in unified Korea. The idea of joining green into peace is embedded in the word of green peace. Green has been already a trendy value in philosophical thinking in these days and therefore will be the most critical element to constitute a sustainable form of human beings in the unified Korea. Peace is also an emerging value as a very urgent task of human being too. After the Cold War, ethnic, regional, cultural, and religious conflicts are bringing about a variety of conflict, violence and hatred, and it has become an urgent task to manage nationalism, ethnic sentiment, racism, and religious conflicts. In this, the value of green and peace will be the dominant paradigm of identity that the future Korea should build together with a newly established fatherland.

Conflict Transformation and Healing Programs
After the unification, regional conflicts between the North and the South will become serious problems in many aspects, and these conflicts are likely to be further amplified through political and social empowerment based on local sentiments. If there will be such a serious conflict, intervention of a third party may be a very realistic option as an arbitration mechanism to mitigate the conflict among them. There will be a great need for a mediator or mediation mechanisms to solve the various conflicts of ideological, cultural and social ones deeply rooted in between the two Koreas after unification. Traditionally, the conflict is understood as that can be ‘revolved’ or ‘managed’ by special methods. But more recently people have argued that it cannot be ‘resolved’ or ‘managed’ in a way that the sources of conflict are completely eliminated. Rather it should be solved by the method of conflict transformation, focusing on the relationship among conflicting parties. In many cases, conflicts cannot be treated in the way of ‘management’ or ‘solved’, rather they are able to be treated only through redefining ‘relationship’. Therefore, in the case of such a conflict, there should strive to find creative sympathetic elements in the process of dealing with conflict resolution and to build a constructive relationship better by focusing on the ‘relationship’ between groups of conflict rather than focusing on the conflict itself.
In this respect, conflict mediation and the specialized agencies can be utilized in addressing social integration in unified society in Korea. It may help operate a national program to seek a mental healing. Millions of North Koreans lost their families because of hunger, and witnessed their family members’ deaths. They should be supplied help for mental healing and counseling. It may also help operate conflict transformation programs such as ‘Peacemaker’ and ‘conflict mediation’.[21] In particular, we should prepare a training program for the North Korean people. If the two Koreas do not reconcile with each other fortified by hatred and a sense of revenge due to the Korean War, unified Korea will not be able to take a step forward for successful social integration. And also it should carry out democracy training program. Some values of authoritarian attitude will be important factors to hinder the integration of a unified Korean, given the nature of North Korean society with the ‘unitary guidance system’ and undemocratic behavior prevailing currently in North Korea. In this regard it is essential to carry out democracy training programs to tolerate diversity and to recognize the entity of others in order to realize a successful social integration in a unified Korea.

Information and Cyber Management
Unification will lead to a serious social crisis. The so-called unification crisis in Korea can lead to public unease in the Korean peninsula. The events following the Cheonan warship incident and Sewol Ferry incident demonstrated that people in South Korea can access news about the incident very quickly via the internet, even before the official government statements are made. In the same way, news of a political situation in North Korea will likely reach the domestic and overseas Korean masses first through internet sources rather than through the South Korean or unified authority. Taking into account that today’s South Korean citizens perceive internet sources as being more credible than official information provided by the government, it is vital that the unified Korean government find improved ways to accurately and efficiently transmit information concerning unification news to the Korean public.[22] Failure of the government to do so will lead the public to feel greater distrust towards the government and ultimately hamper the government’s efforts to promote its policies on unification.
To ease tensions, the unified Korean government will need to take an active role to formulate an effective accommodation policy for North Korean refugees. Yet, even despite positive intentions, a passive approach by the unified Korean government may only encourage continued mass chaos if most of Koreans tend to resort to groundless rumors and false reports. Nonetheless, it is crucial for the unified Korean government to take an active role in controlling the crisis. In the current information age, the government must prepare to take action with the awareness that the ability of ordinary citizens to access information is similar to that of field experts. This may apply to unification crises on the Korean peninsula as well. It is no longer possible for the government to manage its people by attempting to restrict information; this will only cause the people to distrust the government. In order to gain the people’s trust, the government must turn to a system through which it can share information efficiently through the internet and persuade the people by engaging with and openly challenging opposing views online. Therefore, without clear and accurate guidelines from the unified Korean government, social chaos in unified Korea will be difficult to avert.

Unification as a historic and societal event may cause much conflict and crisis rather than blessings and benefits to both Koreas if not strategically planned and properly managed. Preparation for unification is not an issue that is confined to a task of immanent political and military challenges. It is an issue of the societal and historic agenda of the entire Korean peninsula in the 21st century that requires great transformation in national identity and various social realms including economy, education, culture and so forth. The vision and plan for the process and strategies of unification will determine the fate of the Korean peninsula, so it should not be dealt with using any nationalistic sentiment, populism, or political force. Well organized plans and analyses based on institutional changes and people’s awareness in the two Koreas are needed. In this sense, efforts should be made to seriously evaluate what the current status and trends of the inter-Korean division and integration situation signify.
Mass migration is likely to trigger social disorder, and widening economic gap between the two Koreas may intensify the class conflict in unified Korea. Ideological and cultural heterogeneity will be even more serious hindrances in integration and identity formation in a newly unified Korea. And enormous hostility and distrust will be great burdens for social integration in unified Korea. This paper suggested four possible solutions which need to be addressed for successful integration and new identity formation after unification in Korea. First, social chaos and conflict should be minimized through the remedies of economic and institutional measures; second, social cohesion and new identity should be strengthened by providing new visions, principles and values; third, very practical programs should be addressed; fourth and finally, proper management of internet and cyber information are needed to reduce social conflict and identity crisis after unification in Korea.
A shift of policy paradigm will be vitally needed also to ease tensions and conflict after unification on the Korean peninsula. Economic and welfare issue will be vital for social integration in unified society. The problem of how to distribute the economic and welfare benefit will be crucial whether it is able to create social cohesion and national unity after unification. Value integration will be also critical for social integration in unified society. For this, communication and mutual understanding is basically needed, and development of universal values such as democracy, markets and openness is essentially important. And the so-called green peace value will also be crucial to form social cohesion with a new identity. The newly unified society will require new citizenship needed for new systems and new institutions. It is a crucial task, in particular, to make the younger generation realize the importance of having a new identity formation after unification because they are the major citizens who shall live in it. The approach to performing this task should not be a unilateral promotion of policy. Rather, mutual understanding and better communication are needed for substantial improvements in the new identity formation in a unified nation. Flexible and organized efforts must be made to rebuild a new social identity for unified Korea while comprehensively understanding a variety of changes in new systems and orientation in the newly established Korean society.
Toward achieving this long-range goal, we should start from the reality of divided Korea. Not only South Koreans’ but also North Koreans’ participation is all the more important to make a preparation towards a successful social integration. What is more important than sheer communication and exchange is to convince the Northern Koreans that their future lies in the unified peninsula and the integration of the two Koreas is far more beneficial than maintaining the current division. Therefore, widening economic gap between the two Koreas and the rising sense of crisis and distrust towards each other should receive more attention from policymakers and scholars as well.
The current South Korean administration emphasizes the recovery of national homogeneity in particular, proposing that South and North Korea work together on the agenda for humanity, co-prosperity and integration. It is not easy to achieve such a vision considering the continuing conflicts and confrontation. But it is fortunate that positive notion regarding the other side as partners of cooperation still exist in the minds of many South Koreans and North Koreans. This is the positive aspect for successful social integration. Both Koreans remember and share the forms of culture even though the content became changed. Both can communicate with each other from a shared memory. We are able to promote social cohesion and new identity formation by utilizing this shared memory. For this goal, inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation is to be encouraged at the governmental level and at the civilian level as well.

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Dong Ho Han, et. al. White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea 2014. Seoul: Korea Institute for National Unification, 2014.
Hansel, Lars. “East Germany: Rationale for East Germans choosing the early unification,” Lessons from the former divided nations and its implications for the Korean context, Peace Foundation International Symposium on the Unification 2010 (June 23, 2010).
History Institute of Social Science Academy in North Korea, Full History of Cho’sun Korea, Vol. 2: Ancient. Pyongyang: Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Science Publishers, 1991.
Kim, Philo. “Conception on the South and the Reality in North Korea by North Koreans,” Changes of North Korea and the Residents in 2014: How We Evaluate the Change in North Korea during the two years of Kim Jong Un (IPUS, SNU, August 27, 2014).
________. Religious Nature of North Korea: A Comparison on Religious Forms of Juche Idea with Christianity. KINU, 2000.
________. “Human Loss of Korean War and the Change of Class Policy in North Korea,” Study of Unification Policy, Vol. 9, No. 1 (2000), pp. 219-242.
________. Regional Self-Reliance System in North Korea. KINU, 1999.
________. “An Evaluation on Mass Exodus of North Korean Refugees and its Countermeasures,” Policy Studies (Fall 1997), pp. 245-297.
Korea NGO Council for Cooperation with North Korea, and Government-Civil Policy Council for Assistance to North Korea(of Unification Ministry), White Paper on Ten Years of Assistance to North Korea. Seoul: Korea NGO Council for Cooperation with North Korea, and Government-Civil Policy Council for Assistance to North Korea(of Unification Ministry), 2005.
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[1] Ministry of Unification, Collections of Exchange and Cooperation between East and West Germany. Section 3: Human Exchanges and Transportation. (Ministry of Unification, 1993); Suk-Eun Chang, Integration Process of Divided States and Its Lessons: Focusing on Vietnam, Yemen, and Germany (Seoul: KINU, 1998), pp. 113~116.
[2] Emile Durkheim, On Suicide. Translated by Chung-sun Kim, On Suicide of Emile Durkheim (Seoul: Chung-A Press, 1994).
[3] Talcott Parsons, The Social System: The Major Exposition of Author’s Conceptual Scheme for the Analysis of the Dynamics of the Social System. (Glencoe, Ill: The Free Press, 1951).
[4] Emile Durkheim, The Division of Labor in Society. (New York: The Free Press, 1956), pp. 129~130.
[5] “Peace Dialogue,” UN News Center ( 02 Jan. 2015.
[6] Jong-Chol Park, et. al., Measures of Building Comprehensive System for National Consensus on Unification. (Seoul: KINU, 2005), pp. 9~13, 129~161.
[7] Werner Pfennig, “Social Change: East-West Division, Demographic Statistics, and Consumption Behavior.” Ministry of Unification, Study of Unification and Integration in Germany: Volume 1 – Sectional Study. (Seoul: Ministry of Unification, 2014), pp. 159~167.
[8] Op. cit., pp. 168~169.
[9] Friedrich Winter, ed. Die Moderatoren der Runden Tische: Evangelische Kirche und Pilitik 1989-90 (Leipzig, 1999), recited from Werner Pfennig, “Germany United Since 25 Years – Korea Since 70 years Still Divided: Some Questions and Critical Remarks Based on Experiences Made in Germany” (Paper presented at Conference on the German Experience of Integration after Reunification Its Implication for Korea, January 27, 2015, Hotel Lotte), p. 15.
[10] Eun-Jong Lee, “Unification Preparation from the Perspective of Unification Document in Germany,” Workshop cohosted by Free University of Berlin and IPUS, Seoul National University, January 28, 2015, Hoam Faculty House, Seoul National University.
[11] Lars Hansel, “East Germany: Rationale for East Germans choosing the early unification,” Lessons from the former divided nations and its implications for the Korean context, Peace Foundation International Symposium on the Unification 2010 (June 23, 2010), pp. 126-127.
[12] There are numerous number family members abducted during the Korean War, and also there are 516 South Korean abductees remained in North Korea. Since the end of the war, 3,835 South Koreans had been abducted (or kidnapped) among whom 3,310 were repatriated and some escaped, but 516 are still under detention in North Korea. And about 500 South Korean POWs (out of 19,000 South Korean entire POWs) who are alive in North Korea will become a social issue., Dong Ho Han, et. al. White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea 2014. Seoul: Korea Institute for National Unification, 2014, p. 550.
[13] Young-Hoon Song, Philo Kim and Myung-kyu Park, Survey on Unification Conception in North Korea in 2008~2013: Focusing on North Korean Refugees (Seoul: Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, Seoul National University, 2014).
[14] Myung-kyu Park, et. al., Survey on Unification Conception in 2014, p. 425.
[15] History Institute of Social Science Academy in North Korea, Full History of Cho’sun Korea, Vol. 2: Ancient. (Pyongyang: Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Science Publishers, 1991), pp. 10~13, 129~134, 180~182; Young-jong Son, Young-hae Park, Yong-gan Kim, Thorugh History of Cho’sun Korea, The First Volume.(Pyongyang: Social Science Publishers, 1991), pp. 33~43.
[16] Juche ideology has been developing from a simple ideology to religious belief. North Korea performs worship service of meeting and study in, what it calls, ‘Study Room for Kim Il Sungism’ like a church building in Christianity. It is estimated that there would be at least more than 100 thousands those places nationwide. The place is regarded as solemn and sacred location distinguished from ordinary or profane locations because the place is believed to be deeply related to Kim Il Sung. Philo Kim, Religious Nature of North Korea: A Comparison on Religious Forms of Juche Idea with Christianity. Seoul: Korea Institute for National Unification, 2000.
[17] To the question of “Do North Koreans have pride in the juche ideology?” 57 percent said “yes,” while 43 percent said “no” in 2014. Philo Kim, “Conception on the South and the reality in North Korea,” Changes of North Korea and the Residents in 2014 (IPUS, SNU, August 27, 2014). The share of positive responses stood at 63.8 percent in 2012 and fell to 51.9 percent in 2013, but rebounded to 57.0 percent in 2014. These figures represent a drop of some 20 percentage points from 1994, when some 80 percent professed pride in the ideology.
[18] Myung-kyu Park, et. al., Survey on Unification Conception in 2014, p. 177; IPUS, “How We Evaluate the Change in North Korea during the two years of Kim Jong Un,” Conference of IPUS on Changes of North Korea and the Residents in 2014 (August 27, 2014), p. 112.
[19] Young-Hoon Song, Philo Kim and Myung-kyu Park, Survey on Unification Conception in North Korea in 2008~2013: Focusing on North Korean Refugees. p. 106.Scharmer (2001a), 71.
[20] Within this structure of “systematic antagonism” I would call, North Korea has pursued regional self-reliance system since early 1960s which has a military purpose. This is the unique idea of Kim Jong-Il, who had raised a county-based self-reliance strategy in 1964 to defend the system in case of war. In this context, North Korea tried on purpose to evenly disperse the industrial facilities nationwide, shunning from being paralyzed in war-time. This has been done to improve the capability of military defense. After the post-Cold War era, North Korea has furthermore resorted to the self-reliance strategy of local mobilization. Philo Kim, Regional Self-Reliance System in North Korea. KINU, 1999.
[21] For example, refer to Peace-maker program, and to conflict resolution program,
[22]  Jae Jean Suh, “Social Consequence of North Korean Contingency,” IIRI Working Paper Series 02 (June 2010), pp. 10-15.



Philo Kim
Dr. Philo Kim is currently an Associate Professor for Institute for Peace and Unification Studies (IPUS), the Seoul National University.