Is Germany’s Unification Experience A Lesson for North and South Korea?

German Ambassador Rolf Mafael poses for a photo with other officials who convened at a panel discussion on national unification in Seoul on Thursday. From left are: Mafael; National Assembly Rep. Lee Jae-young; professor Ra Jong-yil of Hanyang University; Saxony-Anhalt Minister-President Reiner Haseloff; professor Werner Patzelt of Technical University of Dresden; Norbert Eschborn of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation; and Kim Myeon-hoei, president of the Korean Society of Contemporary European Studies.
German Ambassador Rolf Mafael poses for a photo with other officials who convened at a panel discussion on national unification in Seoul on Thursday. From left are: Mafael; National Assembly Rep. Lee Jae-young; professor Ra Jong-yil of Hanyang University; Saxony-Anhalt Minister-President Reiner Haseloff; professor Werner Patzelt of Technical University of Dresden; Norbert Eschborn of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation; and Kim Myeon-hoei, president of the Korean Society of Contemporary European Studies.

This story appeared originally in the Korea Herald on Sep. 28, 2014.

South Korean and German officials and academics convened in Seoul on Thursday to discuss what lessons might be gleaned from the unification of East and West Germany on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

German Ambassador Rolf Mafael, professor Ra Jong-yil, a former South Korean ambassador and vice minister at the National Intelligence Service, and other senior officials discussed the significance of German unification and the many differences between the German case and the challenges South and North Korea face in reconciling after more nearly 70 years of division.

The talks took place during a panel discussion and dinner reception, entitled “25th Anniversary of Germany’s Peaceful Revolution: Lessons for Korea.”

The revolution began in the East German cities of Leipzig and Dresden in 1989, and eventually precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of the country the following year.

“This is a historic year. So, the Minister-President of Saxony-Anhalt (Reiner Haseloff) is visiting here. The region is very meaningful and significant in remembering German division and unification for West Germans because we had to pass through the region to enter into East Germany,” Mafael said. “I also remember waiting there for a couple of days before receiving permission to enter East Germany.”

The German Embassy and the South Korean government are commemorating the historic event this year with over a dozen events, including academic seminars, cultural exchanges, visits by VIPs and trade delegations, and a huge reception on German Unity Day, which is celebrated on Oct. 3.

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