The NIMBY (“Not in my Backyard”) syndrome seems to be aptly represented by the current public sentiments among South Koreans. Being economically more successful than their neighbor, many of them share the fear that unification will only bring more harm than benefit, threatening their current comfortable way of living. Even though North Korea is literally right in South Korea’s backyard, there are some who choose to conveniently forget the reality that the two Koreas are divided and are in a state of war, all because they fear losing their material wealth.
While separated and technically at war with each other, North and South Korea share many similarities like in their economic ambitions, their mountainous landscapes and their shared history. Day by day, life goes on with some form of nomalcy for the people in these countries, and the idea of them being separated has perhaps been accepted as a reality by most. But through this drawing, I wanted to convey the idea that there is still hope. As long as there is another day, and as long as people are hanging onto their wish of unification, that distant, seemingly elusive goal can be realized.
I wanted to depict that the path towards Korean Unification required effort and persistence. There are many obstacles such as differences in ideologies and leadership that are hindering the unification of the two Koreas, but so long as the common goal of unification is pursued on both sides, I do believe that there will come a day where we can see these two Koreas overcoming their differences and be reunited. All it takes is the first step.
It is a well-established fact of the deep-seated animosity between North and South Korea. Due to irreconcilable differences, and the North and South being unable to see eye to eye on crucial issues, the once unified Korea has remained separated for more than fifty years. And as long as they are unwilling/unable to solve their differences, it seems like the two Koreas will continue to have their backs turned to each other, until one decides to reach out and be willing to accomodate to the other first.
While incorporating the flags of the two Koreas into my drawings, I found myself wondering how a unified Korea flag would look like. As I studied the two flags, I realized that there was similarity between the two flags, in terms of the colors primarily used i.e. blue and red. And as I was looking at the taeguk (“yin and yang” inspired) symbol, an image of an infinity symbol suddenly came to my mind. Through this drawing, I wish to express the idea that North Korea and South Korea are more similar than they are different, infinitely bound to each other despite their differing ideologies and cultures.
It goes without saying that perspectives are important. Its not realistic to paint everything as black and white, right and wrong. Even with regards to North Korea and the Korean unification issue, some might see North Korea as the main antagonist, frequently citing its human rights abuses and its inhumane treatment of its citizens.
Ultimately, how one perceives a certain issue depends on which vantage point one is looking from. From North Korea’s perspective, U.S. is seen as the main antagonist/’enemy’ that is impeding the whole unification process, whereas its vice versa for the U.S.
And while the U.S. villianizes North Korea, China on the other hand chooses to see North Korea as its ally (though it is questionable if their current alliance is as strong as it was in the past).
The Korean unification should not be fixated on who is ‘right’ or who is ‘wrong’ for Korea’s separation, but instead focus on the need to have Korean unification – restoring the status quo of the Korean peninsula.
This picture is pretty much self-explanatory. I wanted to depict how the North Korean regime keeps an iron-grip rule over its citizens, from dictating what they are to wear, eat, watch, to even the little minute things like their hair cuts. North Koreans pretty much aren’t allowed to do what they please and as long as they are under the North Korean regime, it seems unlikely that this trend will change anytime in the near future.