Lecturing and traveling in South Korea, I had some time also to visit the city of Seoul, the villages and the Fortress of Suwon and the Demilitarized Zone which marks the border to North Korea. These are very different impressions, which range from a modern city with a lot of heritage and cultural awareness, an insight into the history of the Peninsula reaching back into the times of the Chinese Three Kingdoms and the unresolved issue of a separated country, which is the last one since the Fall of the Berlin Wall (which I remember myself quite vividly). Of course, you start to compare the former German and the current Korean situation and try to imagine a solution. But there are many differences which might make a reunification much harder than the German one 20 years ago. North Korea is not a “Communist Country”, it is a sick family dictatorship. Kim Jong Il is in the Communist spectrum more on the side of a Stalin, Mao Zhedong, Chauchesku, Pol Pot than on the one of Erich Honnecker, which makes him and his clan a much more dangerous and unpredictable one. Furthermore, the institutions, even they were bad in the GDR, they were still existing. And last but not least the East Germans were very well informed about what the rest of the world looks like, which the North Koreans are not. The reported potential hand over of power to his youngest son Kim Jong Un, called “Prince fatty” is seen by many just as prolonging the dynasty. But who knows what really happens.
South Korea is a very nice place to travel in, with a large variety of different landscapes, a very good infrastructure and really friendly and helpful people everywhere.