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Korean-German Reunification Academy

The 1st Korean-German Reunification Academy took place on the 20th of May. The event took place at the Plaza Hotel Seoul, City Hall and Ganghwa Island, and it was co-hosted by Korea Institute for Peace and Cooperation (KIPCO) and Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSS).

Dr. Son Gi Woong, director of KIPCO, has initiated the Reunification Academy to open and deepen perspectives on reunification and to awaken a sense of “yearning for reunification” among the youth generation of South Korea. Participants ranged from university professors to graduate and undergraduate students majoring in various areas of study, including politics, journalism, administration, and even culinary.

The program started at 10:00 AM at the Plaza Hotel, where the first session took place. The session was moderated by KIPCO secretary Yoo Panduck and involved an opening ceremony, two lectures, and lunch. Dr. Bernhard Seliger, resident representative of Hanns Seidel Foundation Korea, presented on the topic “Why is reunification important? The Implications of the German Precedent,” sharing his views on the German reunification and his personal experiences. Dr. Son Gi Woong, in his lecture, “Reunification, the Way here and the Way to Go,” emphasized the importance of reunification, explaining its economic, political, and social implications.

The first session came to an end, and the participants boarded on a bus to Ganghwa Island. During the bus ride, Professor Kang Dong Wan from Dong-A University gave the lecture “Reunification from the Perspective of Young People: Past, Present, and Future,” actively inviting college students to speak about their personal views on reunification. Participants got off the bus upon arrival and explored the Ganghwa Island Observatory and the local region. Students visited the local Daeryong Market for dinner, assembling in groups of three or four to comply with COVID-19 regulations.

On the ride back to City Hall, participant students presented on their experiences. Professor Son Gi Woong closed by highlighting the idea of Korea as one nation, asking the profound question, “Are you merely a resident in the South, or are you a citizen of Korea?” Through this experience, participants, who were mostly students in their early 20s, were able to build knowledge and strengthen perceptions on Korean reconciliation.