Cord leader Raila Odinga has called for the unification of South and North Korea because “it will will give them a stronger voice and presence” in international politics. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP NATION MEDIA GROUP
- Mr Odinga argued both the North and the South have a lot to gain if they became one, as opposed to when they are separated.
- Though they speak one language and are composed of people from similar ethnic backgrounds, the two Koreas have pursued opposing political ideologies since the Korean War of 1950s.
- After World War II, the Korean Peninsula was divided into two, with the North placed under the former Soviet Union and the South under the US as the defeated Japan left.
In a speech delivered to a global forum in the South Korean capital Seoul on Thursday, Mr Odinga argued both the North and the South have a lot to gain if they became one, as opposed to when they are separated.
“By championing unification of the Koreas and building a global coalition in this direction, Korea will be making active contributions to … international peace and stability,” he told the gathering at the Global Forum on the role of the Republic of Korea (official name for South Korea) in sustainable development.
“Unity of the Koreas will give them a stronger voice and presence at the UN Security Council and enable them (to) make positive and effective contributions in the process of resolving crises like that in Syria.”
But a South Korean official attached to the United Nations in Nairobi told the Nation that both sides would have already come together but for the refusal of Pyongyang.
“It is the biggest hope of every Korean, whether from the South or North to finally become one. This is because many families were separated during the war," said the official, who sought anonymity.
“But (the) North Korean government don’t want it. They have even refused to allow families to visit each other. They keep rejecting our offers. They need to change that.”
Though they speak one language and are composed of people from similar ethnic backgrounds, the two Koreas have pursued opposing political ideologies since the Korean War of 1950s.
The North is communist and has been headed by the Kim dynasty since the end of World War II.
Economic sanctions proposed by the UN Human Rights Commission have cut it off from the global market. As such, the North is one of the most isolated countries in the world.
OFFERS TO MEDIATE
South Korea, on the other hand, is democratic, allied to the West and has had smooth transitions of power. Yet the North is officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Mr Odinga, who offered to mediate, said there was a need for South Korea “to rearrange its relationship with the region and the world to reflect the progress it has made over the years.
“The Republic of Korea needs to embark on building alliances and partnerships with the regional and global community that should end in the unification of the two Koreas. Ideally, this should never have been difficult.
“But we know the reality, informed by politics, is different. We need to begin with the basics which are also the fundamentals; probably the only things that matter. The key to long term political relationship on the global arena is mutual trust.”
After World War II, the Korean Peninsula was divided into two, with the North placed under the former Soviet Union and the South under the US as the defeated Japan left.
The two regions were to eventually merge.
However, the Soviet Union and the US pursued divergent political ideologies, making it difficult to unite the peninsula.
This was followed by a bloody war in 1950, where about five million people died.
The US led a UN coalition of forces for the South while China and the Soviet Union fought in the North. The two regions remain allied to those respective allies to date.
Mr Odinga was accompanied by Kisii Governor Evans Ongwae and his Turkana counterpart Josphat Nanok.
They held a meeting with Korean investors and were scheduled to meet the President of the Korea International Cooperation Agency, Mr Young Mok Kim.