Solution to divided Koreas rests in understanding internal politics

6 May 2014

A Deakin University academic has challenged observers of inter-Korean relations to look more closely at the role of South Korean political activists, if they want to achieve peace and security in Northeast Asia.

The call, which is contained in a new book – Contentious Activism and Inter Korean relations – written by Dr Danielle Chubb will be launched by former High Court Justice and Deakin Adjunct Professor Michael Kirby today Tuesday May 6.

Professor Kirby said the book 'brilliantly analysed inter-Korean politics.

"At a time when a new, sharp and realistic spotlight is being shone on both parts of the Korean peninsula by the United Nations, this book helps the reader to understand present attitudes as outgrowths of the great sufferings of the Korean War of the 1950s," he said.

Dr Chubb said the book was triggered by her interest in the North Korean human rights campaigners' passion for their cause.

 "It wasn't until I started to really delve into the micropolitics of the activism around North Korean human rights issues that I noticed the way the topic was discussed with hushed tones in South Korea," she said.

 "People who had taken up the cause were stereotyped and it became, at least for me, more interesting to look at those who had not become involved rather than those who had and to understand why," she said.

 Dr Chubb said her efforts to answer this question led to her looking at the history of the Koreas as well as the beliefs and ideas which had shaped South Korea.

 "I found myself looking at South Korean politics, its history of democracy, human rights and the unification movements, all of which has shaped the vibrant democracy it is today," she said.

 "It really opened my eyes, and I hope my book will open the eyes of others as well, to the Korean perspective.

 "My discussions with the North Korean human rights community revealed that the key to dealing with North Korea goes beyond proposing solutions based on strategy and economics.

 "Instead we need to look at what it means to be Korean in the 20th and 21st centuries and key to this is the role of domestic politics and political activists."


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Sandra Kingston
Media and Corporate Communications
03 9246 8221, 0422 005 485
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