Korea is facing a potentially historical turning point and as the world looks on, the divided people may finally resolve decades of political, nuclear and humanitarian unrest.
Leaders Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un demonstrated a commitment to build relations, declaring an end to the Korean War at the recent Inter-Korea Summit. Although hopeful, much of the optimism is cautious.
In the past, the Recognition and Cooperation Policy of 1998 sought to mend the relationship between the two Koreas through what was nicknamed the “Sunshine Policy.” So named after the popular Aesop’s Fable “The Wind and the Sun,” because of the intention to use a “warm” strategy, including humanitarian aid, to thaw tensions.
However, the policy’s lack of clear goals and coordination made it a mixture of cloud, wind and only occasional sun. There were opportunities for divided families to meet and exchange aid and economic cooperation across the border, but it did not manifest in unity between the Koreas based on mutual trust, transparency, and reciprocity.
The Wind and the Sun fable is simple, but like all fables, the power is in the moral of the story. Utilized effectively, it might just shed some light on a path to peace for the Korean peninsula.
The Wind and the Sun
The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: “I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin.”
So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair.
Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.
So why use this fable in relation to the Korean issue? The question is not, “Who is the Wind?” or “Who is the Sun?” Rather it is what.
Even while there appears to be a thaw – we need something solid upon which to build future relations. I.e., we desperately need a shared vision and inclusive narrative for people on both sides. And in fact this lies in the history of the Korean people, cast in the founding story of Tangun laid out in the principles of Hongik Ingan, which calls on the people to bring benefit to all humanity. This vision must be warm enough to convince Koreans that it is in their best interest and to the benefit of the world to join in the task of reunification and nation building together.
We need, each of us, to look to bring sun and warmth. With real engagement on a vision, dreaming and acting of the possibilities with those around us, we can bring forth the true sunshine of the Korean Dream.