“Once-Divided Germany Is Model for Korea Reunification”

March 26, 2014

Park says Korean unification sure to come

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and the President of South Korea Park Geun-hye brief the media during a meeting at the chancellery in Germany in Berlin, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. The President of South Korea Park Geun-hye is on a three days official visit in Germany. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and the President of South Korea Park Geun-hye brief the media during a meeting at the chancellery in Germany in Berlin, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. The President of South Korea Park Geun-hye is on a three days official visit in Germany. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

By Chang Jae-soon

BERLIN, March 26 (Yonhap) — South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Wednesday that unification with North Korea won’t be easy but is sure to come just as the Berlin wall fell.

Park made the remark during a luncheon hosted by German President Joachim Gauck, saying Germany is the envy and goal of South Koreans and she will make steady preparations for unification with North Korea.

“As in the case of German unification, our unification will never be easy, but I will make preparations one by one with a firm conviction that unification will surely come,” Park said. “I firmly believe that there will come a day when our cease-fire line will fall.”

Park arrived in Berlin on Tuesday night from The Hague, where she attended an international anti-nuclear terrorism conference and held a series of meetings on its sidelines, including trilateral talks with U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Unification is the main theme of the four-day visit to the European nation that she believes could help her chart a course toward unification with North Korea. Park could also unveil a new vision for unification when she visits the former East German economic center of Dresden later this week.

She will be the first South Korean president to visit a city in former East Germany.

“During the trip, I will also make a visit not only to the unification scene of Berlin, but also to Dresden … and will have a chance to think about Korean unification and its direction,” she said during the lunch with the German president.

South Korean leaders have sometimes used trips to Germany to announce new proposals or policies on North Korea. In 2000, former President Kim Dae-jung issued the “Berlin Declaration,” calling for the end of the Cold War on the Korean Peninsula and lasting peace between the two sides.

In recent months, Park has made strong pitches for unification, saying it would be an economic “bonanza” for the two Koreas as well as a blessing for neighboring countries. She also ordered the creation of a presidential committee to prepare for unification.

Later in the day, Park visited Brandenburg Gate, a symbol of German unification, in a move underscoring her commitment to unification. She visited Berlin City Hall for a meeting with Mayor Klaus Wowereit and laid a wreath at the Neue Wache war memorial before holding talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

During the meeting with the mayor, Park said that Berlin has become the center of Europe after unification and is a city that gives hope for South Koreans. She also said she is very much envious of Berlin citizens freely coming and going between the formerly divided city.

“I hope a day like this will come on the Korean Peninsula as soon as possible,” she said.

Sharing experiences of German unification is expected to be among the key topics for Park’s talks with Merkel, along with ways to bolster trade and investment between the two countries, the Korean Peninsula situation and other regional and global issues.

Park and Merkel have forged a personal bond since they first met in 2000 when Park visited Germany as the leader of the then-opposition party. Merkel was also the first foreign head of state to call Park to congratulate her on winning the 2012 presidential election.

The two last met in September on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Russia.

While in Berlin, Park also plans to hold a meeting with six former officials of East and West Germany to seek their advice on unification. They include former West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, former West German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble, Germany’s current finance minister, and former East German Prime Minister Lothar de Maiziere.

 

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