News / Asia

Online Program Touts Reunification to South Korean Youth

Online Program Touts Reunification to South Korean Youth
Online Program Touts Reunification to South Korean Youth

This week negotiators from Washington, South Korea, China and Russia are trying to get the stalled North Korea nuclear talks back on track. The talks are aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program - something that South Korea has long insisted must occur before they could consider reunification. But for many young South Koreans, born decades after the Korean War, reunification is one of the last things on their minds. However a new government-sponsored online television channel hopes to change that.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry handles relations with North Korea.  It is also responsible for preparing the South Korean people for the day when reunification with the North eventually happens.

Lee Seung Shin of the ministry’s public relations department, says the government is trying new ways to get its message out to the people.

Lee says new media technologies are allowing the ministry to better promote its policies.   He says people do not read pamphlets anymore.  They are more accustomed to getting information from the Internet, SMS, television or smart phones,

Unification Channel


Starting this October, the Unification Ministry launched an online video on demand website called the Unification Channel.

The site is updated weekly and features news reports, interviews and media briefings from the ministry all about North Korea.

But the Unification Channel also aims to provide some laughs.

Viewers can watch a 20-episode comedy about a South Korean family that adopts a North Korean refugee.  The description of the show says the characters will confront various issues related to reunification.  

Reluctant youth


The Unification Ministry says the online channel, as well as new Facebook and Twitter accounts, are all attempts to get young South Koreans interested in North Korea.

But some observers say that reaching out to Koreans in their teens and early twenties will not be easy.  

Analyst Andrei Lankov at Seoul’s Kookmin University says after nearly 70 years of division, most youths just do not see the point anymore of reunification.  

"Pretty much nobody among the younger generation of Koreans is seriously interested in unification and North Korea," he said. "North Korea is increasingly seen as a distant country, an irrelevant place, a poor dictatorship whose population happens to speak the same language."  

Lankov says the irony is that this generation is more likely than any before to witness a time when the North Korean government ceases to exist.

Despite that, Lankov says he doubts the Unification Channel will be able to change the apathy of young Koreans.  

"Such efforts, efforts to promote unification, to remind South Koreans that North Korea does exist, are essentially good. However I am very skeptical about the results.  Frankly, I don’t think all these new kinds of channels and talks will make much difference," he said.

The Unification Ministry’s Lee Seung Shin says he understands that many young South Koreans have more immediate things to worry about, like studying for school or finding jobs.  

But Lee says what most concerns nearly all South Koreans is the potential cost of reunification.

Heavy price tag


Lee says the costs are going to be huge. When Germany reunited, the Western Germans had to suffer and were burdened because of costs.  He says people here know reunification will be tough on them too so this is another reason why they have lost interest in reunification.   

The Korea Institute for National Unification estimates that the price tag of reunifying the peninsula at up to $200 billion.

To offset that economic burden, the South Korean government has proposed setting up a so-called Unification Tax.  If enacted, the money will come out of the paychecks of mostly young workers.  

Twenty-four-year-old Hwa Seung Hyun, a student at Seoul Women’s University, says the unification channel should explain how that money would be used.     

"We have to know about North Korea before we unify and also government should teach us why we have to unify before they get our tax," said Hwa. But she adds she is not so sure she will actually log in to watch the Unification channel.

The same goes for her classmate, 21-year-old Ta-eun.  She says she cannot understand why the two nations should reunite, especially after attacks launched by North Korea in 2010, which killed 50 South Koreans.

"It seems like they do not want to cooperate with us or the world," she said. "I think that all the members of the world are trying to solve the bad relationship between the South and the North, but only the North is uncooperative."  

Although it is still too early to tell how many South Koreans will watch the new Unification Channel, there are signs that North Korea is paying attention.

Recently, the North’s own official media called the channel psychological warfare and declared it an act of aggression aimed at preventing reunification.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More