North Koreans dream of unification ahead of inter-Korean summit

Kang Mi Jin  |  2018-04-10 15:31
Unification with the South has become a recent hot topic of conversation among ordinary North Koreans following performances by South Korean musicians in Pyongyang last week, according to sources inside the country.

"These days at workplaces and in homes, the focus of conversation is the inter-Korean summit," said a source in Pyongyang in a phone conversation with Daily NK on April 5. 

"People have hopes that the 'unification' problem can be solved [through the summit], and one elderly resident said that thoughts of unification within their lifetime 'was keeping them up at night.'"

"There is growing hope that the barbed wire along the 38th parallel will be removed," he added. "There are positive reactions and anticipation that the families separated by the Korean War, who have not been able to speak to each other for all these years, will soon be able to reunite in the South."

The public's keen interest in the topic of unification appears to be a natural reaction to the government's promotion of the inter-Korean thaw as the 'Spring of Peace.'

"Many are expressing hope that the inter-Korean summit will bring about solutions to the country's fundamental problems, and that unification should be the top priority of the talks," an additional source in the capital said.

A separate source in Ryanggang Province confirmed to Daily NK that the atmosphere is similar in the border region. "While there have also been inter-Korean summits and cultural exchanges including performances in the past, the current situation is nevertheless giving people a heightened sense of anticipation," she said.

The Ryanggang-based source described hearing people express these hopes during conversations on the streets, at train stops, in the markets, and even at organizational meetings like the Socialist Women's Union.

"During the performance, both Koreas sang songs of unification together, causing everyone to just naturally start thinking that 'unification would be great,'" she said. "If unification is achieved, it will go down in history as a momentous decision."

She noted a similar mood at a nearby school as well, where students were reportedly suggesting that unification may reduce or completely eliminate their military service requirements.

"One student said visiting South Korea would be the first thing they would do upon unification, but they were severely punished by the school for saying this," the source said. 

Meanwhile, Korean Central News Agency edited K-pop group Red Velvets performance out of its rebroadcast, playing only video clips (with the songs inaudible) of the remaining performances by the other South Korean acts.

*Translated by Colin Zwirko

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