Presentation of ‘IM NIEMANDSLAND’(Germany Version) 2006/08/08 874
Presentation of ‘IM NIEMANDSLAND’(Germany Version)
–Frankfurt International Book Fair
I feel really honored to be here, and am very grateful to Changbi, and Axel Dielman for giving me this great opportunity.
Korean War in 1950 not only changed the course of Korean history, but also had a profound impact on world history, let alone China, the U.S., the two major participants in the war.
The aim of the U.S. government’s strategy after the 2nd world war was not just to win wars, but to establish and maintain hegemony in the Eurasian continent, which materialized in the form of Cold War and the division of Korean peninsula. Korean war became an international affair because the peninsula became one of the axes that supported the U.S.’s hegemosy in Eurasia.
Division is a war that has seeped into our everyday lives.
Wars end sooner or later, but division of the peninsula is a device to systematically maintain the state of the war.
In 2002. just when we were all rejoicing the national football team’s entry to semifinal in the world cup games, a battle broke out in the West (china) sea.
That’s the state of division we have lived in for the last 50 years, in which peace and happiness can plummet instantly into a state of war.
As the Cold War ended, several demilitarized zones in the Eurasian continent either disappeared or were moved to other locations. And yet the DMZ on the Korean peninsula is there serving as a 50 year old bulwark of Cold War and barrier to peace.
Through this book, I wanted to point out that the problems regarding the DMZ, and the civilian passage restriction line (CPRL) historically stem from the Eurasian continent’s geopolitical problems and structurally from United Nations Command (UNC), that is in essence the US armed forces.
I also wanted to share my expectation that solving the numerous problems surrounding the DMZ and the CPRL in Korean peninsula would surely put an end to the cold war on the planet.
It will mark the beginning of the Eurasian peace alliance against the US supremacy in the region.
Leaders of south and North Korea have already met and agreed to construct two railway lines that run through the DMZ. This signifies the beginning of peace process.
This book is a travel book. In my view, traveling is politics.
At the very moment when a battle was being fought in the west sea, people from south Korea were cruising on the East sea to visit North Korea.
One visit to the North is all to change an anti-unification leaguer into a pro- unification advocate.
What I found in traveling is to learn and acquire high level of political awareness through pleasurable and fruitful experiences.
Let’s stop talking and travel on board the pictures.
DMZ Slide show ment
Let me give you some background information. This is a map of Korean peninsula. The 1953 ceasefire agreement dictates the that MDL(military demarcation line) ends in Kosung in the east, and Jangdan in the west.
From the MDL the buffer zone stretches 2 km to the N and to the S respectively. This 4 Km stretch of land (on either side of the MDL) is called Demilitarized zone. The MDL and the DMZ only exist on land.
On the river and the sea, no lines or zones of military significance whatsoever can be found.
The civilian passage restriction line (CPRL) is supposed to be set up within 20 Km from the DMZ.
Unlike the DMZ, the CPRL is where civilians live under military control which has resulted in numerous sad incidents.
The first lots of pictures show the scenery of the DMZ and the CPRL, and the second lot deals with anti-personnel landmines , one of the biggest scars of the war.
The eastern side of the DMZ has high mountains, whereas rolling hills are the main scenery in the wast.
Numerous streams, footpaths, and railways that used to link North and south are buried among the tension of the unfinished war.
These tragic sceneries are beautiful only because we didn’t give up the hope and the vision.
This is the bridge of no return in what’s known as Panmunjum, the joint security area in the DMZ.
Halfway up the bridge lies the Military Demarcation Line (MDL).
Two national flags, both more than 100 meters high, fly as a symbol of the rivalry between the clashing ideologies. The presence of alert and nervous soldiers heightens the tension more than any sound of actual gunfire.
This is the Korean Workers party or the KWP building, the only socialist building in capitalist south.
At the end of the corridor, you can see the then owner of the building, chairman of KWP youth committee..
The next is Lieutenant Colonel Buss of the US Army in Korea.
Next person is a war veteran from South Korea. The next is a victim of an anti-personnel landmine.
This empty corridor of the KWP party building has witnessed the history unfolding itself.
Land mine slide show ment
The mine feeds on the line of division, On the war that does not end. The water that flows entangled like tears Has rusted the mine surprisingly fast.
People, risking their lives, try to irrigate the mine field, because their love of land is far greater than their fear of mines. People learn about land through farming. And only through agriculture earth becomes land
One night I woke up in fright As I felt as though my toes were moving. Though my body gets used to cheap clutches, My flesh tears easily, heals and eventually dies off. The flesh has a grain that hands can touch, Therefore it is the unity of mind and sensibility. The artificial leg, leaning against the wall of a room, Is looking at its master. There is much conflict between flesh and stump. The greatest tragedy of the artificial leg is that it can take the place of the victim’s leg but not his flesh.
War is a most positive proof that we still live in the age of the savage. It has forced us to choose if we are either friends or enemies, or either left or right. We have never been given a chance of saying that we are neither enemies nor friends, or neither right or left, but just men. On the other hand, it has created many possibilities of destroying men, and the mine is just one of the possibilities. In the sense that man has created mines and yet he cannot control them, it is the most tragic weapon. The mine does not inflict a wide range of damage all at once, but it is a weapon which maintains a slow but ceaseless state of war and destroys humanity. Herein lies the immoral and inhuman aspect of the mine.Jody Williams, organizer of the Worldwide Ban on Anti-personnel mine campaign, came to know, while working for her son in the American Foundation of the viet Nam War Participation, that so many American soldiers in Viet Nam had either died or had been wounded as a result of stepping on mines they had themselves laid and threw herself headlong into the movement. Through international cooperation by means of internet Jody and ICBL were able to produce the ottawa Agreements to which 133 nations were the signatories and 57 out of these nations have received their congressional ratification. For this outstanding achievement she received a Novel Peace Prize. Jody is a very ordinary lady who is neither a fighter nor a holy person. if there is another hope that she gives us, it is that the age of the common people, in which ordinary people direct the affairs of the world, will come with an immense possibility.
Mouth of han river Slide show presentation
Let’s have a look at the second slide. While I traveled the CPRL and DMZ, I realized one thing. That is, even though you can’t see any UN soldier guarding the sentry post in the DMZ, the administrative authority over the DMZ lies with the United Nations Command (UNC).
On top of that, all the civilian casualties of landmines and the victims of the Agent Orange, the notorious defoliant were produced during the period when UN had the operational control.
The UNC was created to fight the war under the UN security council resolution during the Korean War, but the command lies with US joint chief of staff, not with the UN military staff committee. For these reasons, the UN general meeting passed a resolution to disband the UNC with which the U.S. has not complied yet.
.Disbandment of the UNC is not only an issue of the DMZ on Korean peninsula. It is also about regaining the authority of the UN constitution that has been compromised by the US. I urge all the peace alliances in the Eurasian continent to unite to achieve this goal.
My campaign to disband the UNC started at the mouth of the Han-river.
Let’s look at the map one more time.
The DMZ exists on land, and the administrative authority of the UNC over this matter was given by the truce agreement after the Korean War.
However, over the rivers and seas, there is no DMZ or MDL. Hence no ‘UNC authority here’
Over the last 50 years, people have mistakenly thought that there was such a dividing line over the rivers and seas, resulting in two fairly large-scale battles.
To rectify these misunderstandings and to let everybody know the fact that the UNC doesn’t have administrative authority over the mouth of the Han-river, and to make it clear that nobody needs permission from the UNC to sail on these waters, I launched a plan to put ships there.
July 27th this year, the UNC and the Ministry of Defense conceded that I and my colleagues have been right all along, and we succeed to put a passenger ship with 300 people on board on the mouth of the Han-river.
These slides were made to help people visualize our plan, and garner support, when nobody imagined that the campaign will be successful.
This is the mouth of the Han River.
Imjinriver and hanriver meet here to reach the west sea. This area was called Jo river before the Korean war. The official name now is ‘Han gang ha goo’ which means the mouth of han river.
This is where fresh water meets sea water, and inland water transportation meets the world. This is the ecological paradise, the birthplace of Korean history, and civilization.
But after the war, wire fences were put up on the bank of either side of the river from Kangwha to Seoul. Jo river and han river became a politically created lake. Seoul changed from an international port to a mere riverside city surrounded by the barbed wires of division. Andmemories of the Han-river as a international waterway has faded away.
There is an underwater barrier down the river after the Kimpo Bridge, stopping any boat from going through. With a blocked river, our imagination has been cut off as well. The division of the nation severed the waterway, leaving tears and sighs in its place.
Each year, millions of people visit Odu Mountain Tong-il observatory. On the notice board, however, there is a ‘DML’ in the middle of Imjin and han rivers that run through North and south. And yet nowhere in the ceasefire agreement can we find a mention of MDL of DMZ in the mouth of Han-river area.
Truce agreement says ‘the region of the mouth of Han-river is open to civilian ships from both sides’. According to truce agreement, the MDL and the DMZ exist only on land. The west side of the DMZ ends in Jangdan, across the Imjin river. You can see ‘Jang dan’ from ‘Odoo’ mountain unification observatory.
Shall we have a closer look? The administrative authority over the north side of DMZ lies with the Chinese and the North Korean army, and south side with UNC. South Korean soldiers stand guard there, but we don’t have a pinch of administrative authority. This is one of the reasons that there is no train yet on the already finished Keongyui and Dong hae railway lines.
Do you know what happened on Nov. 17th 2000. It is the most significant day in the history of DMZ. On this day, UNC and North Korean Army agreed to have joint administration over Keongyui, and donghae railway lines by north and south Korean armies. It was a small start. But part of the administration of DMZ was transferred to south Korean army.. However, 2 years later, UNC said no when the south suggested exchange visits and operations to clear landmines. It was to encourage the north to speed up the clearing up operation. UNC’s refused it on the ground that we have to obtain permission to cross DML. The UNC argued that the administration is under the two Koreas, but the jurisdiction still lies with UNC. And yet nowhere in the truce agreement can we find the word ‘jurisdiction’. It uses the word ‘administration’ only. The agreement on Nov. 17th should mean part of the UNC’s administration was transferred to the South Korean government, but UNC is making unreasonable claims of jurisdiction.
But The mouth of hanriver region is different. It starts from upper Sacheon river which is the west end of the DMZ and finishes at Mal island that is part of Kangwha islands. The blue bit is the hanriver mouth area. There is no such thing as UNC’s administrative rights over this region. If there is anything, there is a right to set up navigation regulation for the passing ships. This navigation regulation is something very practical such as both parties agreeing to rescue any ship in distress regardless of their nationality.
There is the northern Limit line(NLL) in the west sea. And two battles broke out there just because crossing this line amounts to crossing the MDL on land. Of course it was a sad misunderstanding. MDL exists only on land. NLL was drawn there under UNC’s own regulation to stop soldiers from the south going to the North. It is an arbitrary line that has never been agreed upon with the north. We have mistaken NLL for MDL because we have forgotten that there is no MDL or DMZ on Han river mouth region. We must understand the nature of this area if we don’t want another battle breaking out there.
Everything and everyone that crosses MDL has to obtain permission from the UNC, whereas the mouth of hanriver area is a division free zone that’s open to all civilians. This was confirmed once.
Nov. 24th 1990 witnessed an astonishing event. While constructing Jayoo motorway meaning freedom motorway built in preparation of the reunification, a ship sailed across the river, for the first time since the division. A Korean special aide to chief of UNC managed to persuade him. This incident proved the fact that there is neither MDL nor DMZ.
From here at the top of the mountain, the North looks so close it feels as though I can touch it if I reach out, and to the south han river spread out like a clear empty sheet. I imagine. I can picture fleets of ship heavy with fish and salt slowly sailing up the Han river as they did before the war. Now we are working to open this waterway again.
We can find in the mouth area the Han river a precious opportunity to open a new era of rapprochement between the North and the South. Keongyui and Donghae railways brought abouta significant change in the Truce agreement, but opening a waterway in han river mouth is a much safer approach where all we have to do is to observe the rules laid out by the the ceasefire agreement. It is an act of dispelling a taboo that didn’t even exist.
The fishermen of Kangwha island will be guaranteed uninhibited fishing in extended fishing zone. And farmers on both sides will be able to share their farming resources. The people who had to take boats to leave hometown behind before the division will be able to take boats back home. Just imagine arriving in Gaeseong in one hour after leaving Inchon Airport via reopened waterway! What a happy dream!
The final decision to open the waterways in han river mouth region lies with UNC, not the Korean government. That’s why we have to meet head of UNC. That’s why we are reaching out to the citizens together with whom we can start the wave of peace. We have to meet and persuade them““`
Most important thing is to look inside ourselves to realize that we have been slaves to our ignorance and inertia. When we can imagine what have been inhibited, when we can free ourselves from the ignorance and inertia, we’ll be able to renew ourselves and hear the sweet songs of streams called peace.
To restore the waterways in the mouth of the han river region is to restore lives that we have forgotten. Memories of the past leads to the vision of the future, I want to rewrite our future by sharing our past. Thank you.
Any sane person would picture an apple in their mid, when they hear the word ‘apple’.
If you think of a pear when somebody says apple, then you need help.
‘Demilitarization’ means ‘no military’. But say it to any Korean and he will picture in his mind armed soldiers in a heavily militarized zone.
The word ‘Demilitarization’ reminds them the exact opposite and yet nobody doubts their sanity. That’s Koreans who have to live with the relics of Cold War and divided homeland.
In war, guns dictate the people. In divided korea, inertia dictates people.
I question whether we can be free without breaking free from this inertia.
The opposite of freedom is not restriction, but inertia.
I wish this book serves as a peace weapon to fight inertia.