Why Does South Korea Wants to Talk to North Korea?

On January 17th, 2018, the two Koreas have reached a compromise regarding North Korea's participation in the Olympics. Experts were bewildered over the progress after the talks. But, some wondered why there was progress at all. Well, for starters, North and South Korea used to be one country. Furthermore, both were one country under Japanese colonial rule. During the rule, Korean women underwent forced sexual labor as "comfort women." Japan apologized and compensated South Korea under the 2015 comfort women accord, but South Korea argued that it was not enough. However, Japan and the United States ignored South Korea's interest. Therefore, South Korea was powerless, with Japan and the United States as the most powerful. In the Olympic compromise, North Korea has recognized South Korea's interest. Therefore, South Korea became equal in power with North Korea. The 2015 comfort women accord showed that South Korea as powerless in contrast to its allies, but the 2018 Olympic compromise showed South Korea as a power player along with North Korea.

South Korea couldn't receive full justice for the comfort women because they were powerless compared to their allies: Japan and the United States. Japan have distorted information about the comfort women which allowed itself to legally avoid responsibility in the 2015 accord. Therefore, Japan apologized to South Korea shoddily under the 2015 accord. South Korea had to agree to the accord itself much to the pressure of their ally, the United States. The United States argued that the accord was a “lasting settlement to this difficult issue" which indicated that it was the best possible option for South Korea. North Korea, however, called it a "humiliating concession" because North Korea thought that South Korea deserved better. North Korea went through the same comfort women ordeal as South Korea, so logically North Korea was inclined to think that way. South Korea thought that way, too. But, Japan and the United States pressured South Korea to support it. Even when South Korea tried to pick up a backbone by saying that it would renegotiate the accord, they ended up backing away. Overall, South Korea was powerless when interacting with Japan and the United States. However, when talking with North Korea, they were not so powerless anymore.

South Korea improved relations with North Korea because both of them were equal in power. Through the compromise, the Koreas made a lot of progress like marching under one flag and a joint field hockey team. As one can see, South Korea’s interest was clearly a better relationship with the “rogue state." North Korea recognized South Korea's interest. Henceforth, North Korea encouraged South Korea in acting its interest by accepting their invitation to talk. Therefore, South Korea became more active in the Olympic compromise than they were during the 2015 comfort women accord. Overall, South Korea and North Korea were equal in power due to shared interests.

To sum it up, the 2015 comfort women accord showed that Japan and the United States would not recognize South Korea's interest while the 2018 Olympic compromise showed that North Korea would recognize South Korea's interest. South Korea wanted justice, but couldn't receive it because they were powerless in contrast to Japan and the United States. Contrary, South Korea wanted a better relationship with their neighboring country and got it because they were equal in power with North Korea. Logically, South Korea would feel comfortable in talking with North Korea, but uncomfortable with the United States and Japan. Consequently, South Korea's frustration with being powerless might drive a wedge in the alliance between Japan and the United States. After all, South Korea did not get what they wanted in the 2015 comfort women accord, but they did get what they wanted in the 2018 Olympic compromise.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

More on Odyssey

Facebook Comments