A Discussion on Paik Nak-Chung’s Division System Theory

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S/N Korean Humanities Vol.1 No.1 pp.39-60 ISSN : 2384-0668(Print)
ISSN : 2384-0692(Online)

Lee, Byung-Soo
Institute of the Humanities for Unification at Konkuk University

Received 28 September 2014; Revised version received 14 November 2014; Accepted 22 December 2014


Since the 1980s, Paik Nak-Chung’s division system theory has broadened the horizons of Korean humanities by constantly reflecting upon Korean social movements. Paik argues that divided Korea is not merely a part of the Cold War but of the capitalist world system in the sense that it is dominated by US imperialism in a more unilateral fashion than other divided countries such as East and West Germany wherein the contradiction between the two Camps was merely reproduced. In order to overcome the division system of Korea, he proposes strategies with concrete and practical directions and methods, such as transformative centrism, a citizen participation model of unification. These strategies are in turn associated with his unique philosophical scholarship on a double mission of adapting to and overcoming modernity and on oriental wisdom. However, he fails to provide a detailed analysis of the mutual hostility, mistrust, and fear of the people of South and North Korea. In order to dismantle the division system of Korea, there is a need to examine the characteristics and mechanisms of the people’s cognitive-practical barriers to reunification, and such are embodied in their values, emotions, and living cultures..

Key Words : The World System, Theory of Double Mission, Transformative Centrism, Citizen Participation Model of Unification, Wisdom Theory

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