Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Divided Korea

Toward a Culture of Reconciliation

2008
Author:

Roland Bleiker

Divided Korea

Offers a fundamental rethinking of Korean security

Roland Bleiker suggests profound structural problems within and between the two Koreas that have not been acknowledged until now. Expanding the discussion beyond geopolitics and ideology, Bleiker places peninsular tensions in the context of a struggle over competing forms of Korean identity. Divided Korea examines both domestic and international attitudes toward Korean identity, the legacy of war, and the possibilities for—and anxieties about—unification.

Bleiker directly and forcefully challenges the conventional ‘wisdom’ of state-centered, realist thinking and analysis. He provides one of the freshest analyses of Korean security in many, many years. Well worth reading.

Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies

In 2002, North Korea precipitated a major international crisis when it revealed the existence of a secret nuclear weapons program and announced its withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Earlier in the year, George W. Bush had declared North Korea part of the “axis of evil,” and soon afterward his administration listed the country as a potential target of a preemptive nuclear strike. Pyongyang’s angry reaction ensured the complete deterioration of relations on the Korean peninsula, where only two years before the leaders of North and South Korea had come together in a historic summit meeting.

Few international conflicts are as volatile, protracted, or seemingly insoluble as the one in Korea, where mutual mistrust, hostile Cold War attitudes, and the possibility of a North Korean economic collapse threaten the security of the entire region. For Roland Bleiker, this persistently recurring pattern suggests profound structural problems within and between the two Koreas that have not been acknowledged until now. Expanding the discussion beyond geopolitics and ideology, Bleiker places peninsular tensions in the context of an ongoing struggle over competing forms of Korean identity. Divided Korea examines both domestic and international attitudes toward Korean identity, the legacy of war, and the possibilities for—and anxieties about—unification.

Divided Korea challenges the prevailing logic of confrontation and deterrence, embarking on a fundamental reassessment of both the roots of the conflict and the means to achieve a more stable political environment and, ultimately, peace. In order to realize a lasting solution, Bleiker concludes, the two Koreas and the international community must first show a willingness to accept difference and contemplate forgiveness as part of a broader reconciliation process.

Borderlines Series, volume 25

Divided Korea

Roland Bleiker is professor of international relations at the University of Queensland. From 1986 to 1988 he served as chief of office for the Swiss delegation to the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission in Panmunjom.

Divided Korea

Bleiker directly and forcefully challenges the conventional ‘wisdom’ of state-centered, realist thinking and analysis. He provides one of the freshest analyses of Korean security in many, many years. Well worth reading.

Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies

Bleiker has certainly achieved the task of stimulating the thinking of those trying to find effective answers to resolving what increasingly seems to be a gamut of intractable issues on the Korean Peninsula.

Journal of International Affairs

Usefully draws on his considerable knowledge. Bleiker writes eloquently and his ability to develop his thesis on the importance of identity construction, values and definition in the Korean context makes for thought-provoking reading. This book would be valuable reading for politicians, military experts and diplomats engaged in the Korean conflict.

Social Alternatives

In this timely and important book. Bleiker does the reader a great service by combining a critical account of recent nuclear crises and North Korean brinkmanship with a deeper analysis of their underlying causes. In turn, he offers some challenging paths toward a more durable solution. He does so in an engaging and accessible style that never loses sight of the real-world challenges we face. He has produced a book that will keep the attention of all interested readers, especially those close to the policy process. While I can highly recommend this book to any concerned reader, I would especially recommend it to two: Alexander Downer and Condoleezza Rice.

Australian Book Review

I began reading this book en route to Seoul for an international conference on the Six Party Talks on the DPRK nuclear crisis, and I can think of no book that could have prepared me better for such a meeting. This book should be required reading for anyone interested in a peaceful resolution to that nuclear crisis and reconciliation between the North and South on the Korean peninsula.

Australian Journal of Political Science

Vividly describes the problem that confronts foreign observers of Korean affairs, not to mention policy and decision makers in the world surrounding North Korea. This book is full of insights and has a fresh and thought-provoking approach; it deserves to be widely read and discussed.

Pacific Affairs

Mr. Bleiker advocates engaging North Korea as a means of reducing the danger inherent in the current situation and building a long-term reconciliation between the two Koreas.

Far Eastern Economic Review

Bleiker, formerly chief of the Swiss delegation to the Neutral Nations Supervisory commission, passionately argues that the prevailing approach of confronting and deterring North Korea will not work. Pyongyang should be treated with respect instead of constantly denounced in offensive terms.

Foreign Affairs

Bleiker marshals an impressive catalogue of anthropological, historical, and literary evidence to support his case.

MultiCultural Review

This book is commendable in its efforts to support a solution to contemporary Korean conflicts through dialogue and reconciliation.

Perspectives on Politics

Divided Korea contributes broadly to the literatures on conflict analysis and resolution, foreign policy prescription, and indirectly psycho-political analysis.

International Studies Review

This is a pioneering work of synthesis in which theory and data are necessarily pared down. Hardheaded, it offers no easy solutions (in fact, it illuminates paradox and complexities). It is essential reading in the field.

Korean Studies

Divided Korea

Contents

Preface: A Rogue Is a Rogue Is a Rogue
Acknowledgments
Note on Transliteration

Introduction: Rethinking Korean Security

PART I Existing Security Dilemmas in Korea

1. The Emergence of Antagonistic Identities
2. The Persistence of Cold War Antagonisms
3. The Geopolitical Production of Danger

PART II Alternative Security Arrangements for Korea

4. Toward an Ethics of Dialogue
5. Dilemmas of Engagement
6. Toward an Ethics of Difference

Conclusion
Notes

Index

Divided Korea

UMP blog - What to do about North Korea?

 

One of the first actions of the new leader, on April 13th, was the launch of a long-rage rocket: an act seen as signaling renewed nuclear ambitions. Although the experiment failed miserably, its effects have been felt worldwide. Experts now fear another North Korea nuclear test as compensation.

North Korea's provocations offer a direct challenge to President Obama, who only recently promised food aid to North Korea in response to promises that the country suspend its nuclear ambitions.


How are we to understand these provocations—and, more importantly, how are we to respond?

 

Read the full article