A piece of world peace history in-the-making

A piece of world peace history in-the-making


Jan Oberg

April 27, 2018

Please watch the video below carefully. You’ll see what could – could, and most likely will – become a piece of world peace history. Note the body language of the two leaders – warm smiles and long handshakes. In spite of being one and the same nation, they meet at the hardest border in the world.

Why is it so? Because everybody else around – the US, Japan, Russia, China – to varying degrees want them to be divided and feel threatened by their possible unification. And yes, a unified Korea would be a formidable economic power but a huge, dangerous conflict would be gone, the US could withdraw, Japan would get a chance to reconciliate in substantive terms.

What is most amazing in this clip is that Kim first steps over the border line into the South. Then – seemingly surprising Moon – invites Moon to step into the North, hand in hand. Hear the people nearby applauding.

This is historic peace-making in-the-making.

So much more convincing and promising than today’s Western/NATO norm: “peace” by violence, imposed from the outside. By us/US.

Here are two statesmen and the Western derogative image of Kim must now be a thing of the past.

I’m personally very tired of all the media and political commentators who, without a second thought, support NATO countries’ bombing in the name of peace, democracy and human rights – today must say that it could all be a ploy by “the Rocket Man”. Kim and the people around him are obviously very competent politicians with a longterm strategy.

In these otherwise dark times, let’s be hopeful that peace is what it will really unfold – a peace that takes place without the US or other foreign parties. It’s genuinely Korean thanks to both historical developments but also two personalities who both seem to have the right attitude and build on what all conflict-resolution must focus on: An identification of common or overlapping interests combined with a view of the future that is so much more benefit than continue enmity.

• •

I shall never forget when, about 20 years, ago I participated in an international peace conference in Seoul – and also visited this border and De-Militarized Zone (DMZ). On the last day there was a delightful dinner in a banquet hall and, as an end to the conference, the Korean participants rose and sang the South Korean national anthem “Aegukga” which, I was told, should be interpeted as expressive of the one-ness, the unity of the Korean people. Both sides!

I can’t say how many, but many in that hall had tears in their eyes, some crying and their voices trembling. I felt both surprised and very moved by the intense emotional charge there and then.

While there may be many in the two Koreas who are hesitant to unification, particularly among the younger generations, I believe the large majority want it, at least in a step-by-step process. The very least the rest of the world should do is to respect that one people has a right to be re-unified if they so want and that  nobody has a right to deny them that right.

• •

Body language and symbol politics has changed the entire world before. When Gandhi came to the Dandi coast at the end of his long Salt March, he picked up salt from the ground, held it up and said: “This is ours” – in defiance of the British colnial administration that maintained that this salt – too – belonged to Britain. Seventeen years later, India became independent.

When German chancellor, Willy Brandt, one of the greatest politicians in my generation – knelt down at the monument in Warsaw, spontaneously, to apologize for the crimes of Nazi Germany he changed European history. He did what very few politicians have the civil courage to do: he apologised for his country and his people’s wrongdoing to another people.

Brandt thereby also opened the way for his next brilliant move for Europe – the detente policy with the Soviet Union (something no Western politician would even think of today vis-a-vis Russia) and the “Ostpolitik” that lead eventually also to unification of the two Germanys.

• •

If what we saw this morning in Korea is allowed – allowed by all the others – to find its own path, it won’t take decades before we can see one of the world’s hardest conflicts de-escalate and trust and cooperation develop and eventually what most Korean people deeply want: to be the one country, the unified nation, they have a historical, collective human right to become.

Could every body else please leave the Koreans alone and in peace to do together what they want.

And could the West, the U.S. in particular, please be supportive of genuine, indigenous peace process and, as a goodwill step, withdraw just a few of its military vessels from the region – but many enough to make it a visible goodwill gesture.



There is also this video by Washington Post

PS It’s fun how feet obviously can play a role in peace-making – but guided by good will and expression of humanity. Gandhi walked about 300 kilometres on his and achieved independence. Brandt used his feet and knees to change Europe. And this morning the two Korean leaders took steps towards peace by inviting each other to set foot on the territory of the other.



The Joint Declaration issued at the summit, April 27, 2018



6 Responses to "A piece of world peace history in-the-making"

  1. Vibeke Larsen   April 28, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    Thank you very much for this

  2. Michael Højgård Hansen   April 28, 2018 at 5:30 am

    Moon is watching what is going on in Syria. I think the west will never accept defeat there. Moon decided to give in. Iran will be next in line. They can do it like Moon or like in Syria, with the help of Russia. It could seem like conspiracy theorist were right after all. A one world government as stated by George Bush 11 september 1991. Can it be interpreted differently? I can’t at the moment. Peace comes with a prize.

  3. Henrik Hedlund   April 27, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    Dear Jan – Thank for an insightful article and your hopeful thinking related to this historical event and promise towards a peceful unification of Korea.

    Warm regards Henrik

  4. fjahanpour   April 27, 2018 at 11:40 am

    A beautiful and thoughtful article about a historic and heartwarming event. Gandhi once said that people’s natural inclination is towards love and peace, and this is why we need military academies and a great deal of propaganda and training to make people kill each other. Let’s hope that this is the beginning of the unification of Korea, as it was one country and was torn apart by violent means that killed millions and destroyed a great deal of the country. If the reason for the presence of US forces in the South was to prevent the threat from the north, now that the two leaders have met in friendship and coexistence foreign forces should leave and allow the two states to work out their differences among themselves. May these touching scenes provide an example for other adversaries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia and Israel and her neighbours to work towards peace and coexistence, rather than threats and war.

  5. Rolf Kuschel   April 27, 2018 at 11:32 am

    Dear Jan
    Thank you for a most thoughtful comment. It is political prosa.

  6. karenhelveg   April 27, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Don’t ignore the role of President Moon. He started breaking the ice on personal contact with the invitation to the winter games and has a much bigger role than ascribed to him in this piece.- That Kim steps over the line first is not the first big step.


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