Toward Overcoming Korea's Division System through Civic Participation
Author: Paik Nak-chung
In this essay – an earlier version of which was delivered as a lecture at a session cosponsored by Critical Asian Studies and the Alliance of Scholars Concerned about Korea (ASCK) at the annual conference of the Association for Asian Studies, San Diego, California, on 23 March 2013 – the author argues the need to go beyond the current state of perilous confrontation and volatility on the Korean Peninsula and examine how and why the current division of the peninsula into North and South has evolved into a "division system." The author contends that "civic participation" (broadly defined to include business entrepreneurs, corporations, NGOs, and private citizens) is necessary to deal with the durable enormity of the division system. He calls this body of nonstate actors the "third party" (the first two parties being those of North and South Korea). Going beyond strictly Korean affairs, this third party, the author concludes, can play a crucial role in creating a larger framework of East Asian cooperation and solidary.
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