Thursday, May 17, 2007

The track to Korean unification?

Are both Koreas nearing their reunification? More than 50 years have passed since Korea was divided in two different countries, and for years it looked that the differences between them were irreconcilable. But the way of the Koreas looked a bit more optimistic towards reunification back in the year 2000, when the Inter-Korea summit took place. Too bad that the reconciliation process got stuck after Kim Il Sung decided to apply full throttle to his nuclear weapons program.

Some months ago, the North Koreans decided that they won't pursue their nuclear program anymore, in exchange of getting some international supplies that they lack in their country (mostly oil). That was a good move, as it not only frees the world from an imminent nuclear threat, but it also makes clear that the North Koreans have some will to unite with their Southern neighbours.

The panorama is even more interesting today, that for the first time after more than 50 years, a train crossed the border between both Koreas. This is very significant, as formerly, although the tracks connecting both countries existed, there were no train services that crossed the most heavily militarized border in the world. Today's trip was only a test, but has a greater meaning than that.

For people like me, who were skeptical about the viability of the reunification, this is a good lesson. When I was in South Korea, not a long time ago, right in the Demilitarized Zone of the border (DMZ) that separates both nations, I was standing right at the Dorasan Station, which is the last station in South Korean territory, before passing to North Korea. I was told by locals that "some day, in the near future, trains will run across the border, and they will connect this station [Dorasan] with the stations in Gaesong and Pyeongyang". I though that there was no way for that to happen, not even when the tracks in such station have clear signs that mention that the tracks have Pyeongyang as their destination.

But now it's true, and it looks that such awaited reunification is closer than it ever was. Will there be any other hurdles in the way to the official end of the Korean war? We hope not. A step closer to peace, indeed.

Photo by EFE


At 7:54 PM , Blogger Ash said...

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