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Borders Inside of a Country - Chances of the Reunification

On Wednesday, 19.12.2018, a conference was held in the Press Center of Seoul on the topic "Peaceful New Beginning in the Border Region". On this occasion, Dr. Seliger from the HSS, among many other prominent speakers, gave a short lecture about the development of the former death strip - the former inner-German border between the GDR and the FRG, which is now developing into the largest European biotope network as a "green belt".

Kim Hyun Gi, Ministry of Interior and Safety, greeting everyone


At the beginning of the conference, the President of Seoul Shinmun, Ko Kwang Heon, addressed a few welcoming words to the participants, followed by three other congratulatory speeches by, among others, representatives Kim Doo-Kwan and Kim Sung Won and Deputy Minister of Public Administration and Security Kim Bu-Keung. The series began with a presentation by Mayor Jeong Ha-Young of Gimpo City, a city near the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), on the role and responsibilities of the local government in the border region of the Korean Peninsula, presenting various projects in the name of peace within the border region. The second speaker was Lee Han-Ju, Director of the Gyeonggi Research Institute, on the role and expectations of the northern Gyeonggi region, followed by Yuk Dong-Han, Director of the Kangwon Institute, with his presentation on the current issues and development plans of the border area in Gangwon Province. The following lecture by Park Kyung-Yeol from the Department of Tourism Research at the Korea Culture Tourism Institute presented the new direction of tourism promotion in the DMZ border area, in particular with regard to the image of the polish-landed region. 

Dr. Seliger talking about the German Reunification


The last lecture was given by Bernhard Seliger, representative of Hanns-Seidel-Foundation. His topic was the changes in the border area between East and West Germany before and after reunification as an example for a possible future of the DMZ. Germany with its own history of division is a good illustrative material for the Koreans, which is why Dr. Seliger used this lecture to make some suggestions for possible handling of the DMZ. For example, he talked about the fact that the FRG had hardly had any military facilities on its side of the border at the time, as the opinion was held that refugees from the East should have the opportunity to come in and that some refugees in the other direction should go quietly if they thought they had a better life in the GDR. The question is why South Korea is not doing the same. Why stop people who want to go back to the North? 
Dr. Seliger also spoke about the economic measures taken within the border region after the reunification and stressed the importance of the establishment of new industries with quality products. The successful nature conservation programme of the so-called "Green Belt", which is regarded as a model for nature conservation parks along the former "Iron Curtain" throughout Europe, and the difficulties of reconnecting East and West in terms of roads and other traffic routes were also underlined. However, it also mentioned what needs to be done to date and how important it is to involve citizens in all developments. Dr. Seliger ended the lecture with an appeal to all present not to concentrate too much on imitating the models of other countries, but to rely more on one's own strengths and the appeal of one's own country and to try to achieve this international importance. 

At the end of the conference, there was a panel discussion chaired by Yun Hu-Deok, member of the National Assembly of the city of Paju. The other speakers were Park Hyung-Bae from the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, Lee Woe-Hee, Director of Northern Research Center Gyeonggi, Kim Bum-Soo, Researcher at Kangwon Research Center, Lim Chang-Yong, Editor of Seoul Shinmun and Hong Sung-Woon from the Department of Tourism Promotion of the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism.