Reunification, for Koreans, has a mythic quality. Most Koreans dream of reunification, of a time in the future when the North and the South will join together to recreate the Korean whole that existed before division and Japanese colonialism. It's a lovely idea, but no one has a very good idea of how to achieve it.
When I met Jamie Walker in 1990, she was a specialist in mediation and conflict resolution. She worked in this capacity from her home in West Berlin, becoming involved in the peace movement, doing violence-prevention work in the school system, and eventually pioneering efforts in mediating cross-border family conflicts.
For more than half a millennium, this narrow alleyway in the heart of Seoul stretched for several kilometers. Today, only a tiny stretch of Pimatgol remains, along with a wooden gate that leads into a half-block of modern storefronts. The fate of Pimatgol reflects the forward-looking trajectory of South Korea.
Korean human rights activists send all sorts of things by balloon across the border into North Korea. Despite the volume of these deliveries, it's not clear whether much of the contraband makes it into the hands of the intended recipients. What is clear, however, is that the North Korean government is very unhappy about this activism.
In the early days of dissent in East Germany, the state and the Stasi were dedicated to eradicating all signs of opposition. As Thomas Klein, a leading oppositionist from those days, explained to me, they didn't even know the size of their dissident circles until after 1989 when the Stasi files became available.