Monday, December 23, 2013

Sunshine Policy

Kim Dae-Jung
The Sunshine Policy was a program of reconciliation between north and South Korea under President of the Republic of Korea, Kim Dae-jung. It began a process of acceptance and interaction between the two Koreas. Ultimately, the policy resulted many historic events.

The Sunshine Policy began in 1997 when Kim Dae-jung was elected President of the Republic of Korea. He wanted to change the policy of hostility towards the northern neighbor to a more diplomatic approach. He was then inspired by an Aesop fable, The North Wind and the Sun. The fable tells that when a man is hit by a strong cold wind, he will wear his coat more tightly. But if the man is hit with a warm radiance of the sun, he will eventually remove his thick coat. The parallel was that if North Korea would be hit by aggressive foreign policies, it would further isolate itself. But if it is hit by economic assistance and diplomatic recognition, it would serve as the sunshine that will result for North Korea opening up to the world.

Kim then followed 3 principles that will guide his Sunshine Policy. First, the Republic of Korea would never tolerate any aggressive provocation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Second, the South would not try to absorb the North. Lastly, reconciliation and cooperation between the two countries would be the priority.

Some Koreans in the South supported the new foreign policy of President Kim Dae-jung. One of avid supporters was the founder of Hyundai, Chung Ju-yung. Chung, whose birthplace is under North Korea. He asked the ROK Government for permission to cross the border 38th parallel to North Korea.  Kim Dae-Jung and eventually the North Korean Government agreed and Chung crossed the 38thparallel to North Korea and donated 1,000 “unification cattle.” Chung also extended his help further by investing in joint inter-Korean projects, like the Mount Kumgang resort in the Demilitarized Zone.

The Sunshine Policy zenith was the groundbreaking events that made headlines around the world. In 2000, President Kim Dae-jung arrived in North Korea and conducted the First inter-Korea Summit with the two Kims, Kim Dae-Jung and Kim Jong-Il hugging each other warmly. Both leaders started discussion on cooperation between their two Koreas. Because of the event, Kim Dae-Jung won the Noble Peace Prize. For the North, the summit resulted to North-South Korea cooperation projects such as the Kaesong Industrial Complex and the Mount Kumgang Tourist Zone.

The Sunshine Policy or at least the policy of diplomatic and peaceful relations was continued by Kim Dae-Jung successor, Roh Moo-hyun.

See also: 

Kim, D. The History of Korea. Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., 2005. 

Moon, C. & H. Soong. Understanding Korean Politics: An Introduction. New York: State University of New York, 2001. 

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