Willy Brandt and I, the Ostpolitik and the Sunshine Policy
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Respected President Park Chul,
professor Jung Hyun-baek, German Ambassador to Korea Norbert Baas, EU
Ambassador to Korea Brian Mcdonald, Secretary General of the Willy Brandt
Foundation Hoppenstedt, professor Noh Myung-hoan, faculties, students, and
It is truly an honor to stand here, and
deliver a speech on the topic of “Willy Brandt and I, the Ostpolitik and the Sunshine
Chancellor Willy Brandt was one of the
greatest figures of the 20th century. He had profound understanding of the
human history and tremendous courage to fight for freedom. He was a man of a
golden heart and action power leading reconciliation with the brethrens at odds.
He also had political decisiveness and boldness as well as deep love for
humanity and a strong sense of justice. Not only Germany, but the whole world is lucky
and proud of having such a great person in our times.
Chancellor Brandt and I were good
friends who understood and respected each other wholeheartedly. Both of us
fought against dictatorship, communism, and division of home countries. And we
shared unshakeable faith in democracy and justice. Most of all, our trust and
friendship grew tightly while we took the road toward reunification of divided
countries with unfailing faith and innocent enthusiasm.
Ladies and gentlemen!
I ran for Presidency in 1971, I visited Americaand had a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC.
At that time, I said to journalists, “I consent and support the Ostpolitik of
Chancellor Brandt.” During the presidential campaign, I advocated the Sunshine
Policy for inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation. Because it was at the
height of the Cold War, I was denounced as a communist sympathizer by the
military government and had to go through a lot of hardships.
1980 when I received the death sentence under the military government, Chancellor
Brandt wrote a letter in protest to General Chun Doo-hwan, the head of the
military government, and asked him to drop the death sentence.
1983 when I was in exile in America,
Chancellor Brandt invited me to Germany.
But I couldn’t go because the military government did not issue a passport for
1987, Chancellor Brandt and the rest of congressmen belonging to the Social
Democratic Party nominated me as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.
October 26, 1989, I invited him to Korea and we had dinner together.
Coincidently, we got the news that the Berlin Wall collapsed. Embarrassed by
the unexpected situation, Chancellor Brandt quickly had to fly back to his
October 1991, I visited Germanyand met him in his office. We exchanged opinions on current international
affairs and future prospect. Most of all, we concentrated on discussing what
lessons Koreashould learn from German unification. Chancellor Brandt advised me, “We achieved
unification by absorption due to unexpected situation in East Germany. I
hope that Koreacan take a peaceful and gradual approach to unification.” He also talked about serious
side effect after the sudden unification by saying, “Even though the Berlin
Wall is brought down, the wall in our mind remains strong yet.”
Chancellor Brandt passed away in October 1992, my wife and sons attended the
funeral for me. I wished I could go, but couldn’t take time due to the election
campaign for 14th Korean presidency. Later in February 1993, I
visited Berlinand paid a tribute at his resting place. Standing before his grave, I
recollected a great friend whom I shared deep friendship throughout lifetime
and prayed for the repose of the soul of Chancellor Brandt. I still think of
him these days, and feel an irresistible yearning for my great friend.
Ostpolitik and the Sunshine Policy have many things in common in terms of philosophy,
policies, and implementation.
both ideas preach unification, never endorsing permanent division of respective
peoples. Unification should come only in a peaceful and phased manner, not through
armed or violent force.
Chancellor Brandt scrapped the long-standing “Hallstein doctrine” and
implemented a practical policy with focus on exchanges and cooperation with East Germany.
Over two decades, the West supported the East with 16 billion dollars in total,
which is annualized at 3.2 billion dollars on average, and boosted the
inter-German exchanges. As a result, the sentiment of the East Germans began to
change. Thus far, they had been brainwashed to believe that East Germany was paradise, while West Germanywas hell. Thanks to the Western support and activated inter-German exchanges,
they came to dawn on the very reality as opposed to what they had been told.
This change in thinking and enlightenment ignited restlessness among people and
implosion from within. Eventually East Germans rose to voluntarily call for
unification even through absorption by the West.
Koreaalso had an experience of implementing the Ostpolitik in a Korean style, which is the Sunshine Policy, for a short
period of time and in a rather small scale. But it did prove significant impact
on North Koreans’ sentiment and the society. Just like the Sun generously gives
out warmth to every direction, the Sunshine Policy intended to let the strong
wind of the Cold war die down, and pave the way for shared victory and
development based on peaceful coexistence, peaceful exchanges, and peaceful
Seoul and Pyongyang agreed at the June 15 inter-Korean
summit in 2000 to fashion our own destiny and work for unification in a gradual
basis. With that principle, both parties decided to actively and dynamically
exchange and cooperate in all areas. Since the 2000 inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang, South
Korea had provided food, fertilizers, and
medical supplies worth 150 million dollars annually. This support significantly
affected minds of North Koreans who had been held by malicious propaganda
against South Korea.
They came to think, ‘South Koreans are rich,’ ‘They have brotherly affection
for us,’ ‘We want to live like them in affluence,’ and ‘Unification should come
This psychological change brought
cultural change. North Koreans enjoyed South Korean popular songs, TV dramas,
and films in unofficial channels. As we witnessed in West Germany that brought changes
to the minds of East Germans, we also won changes in the minds of North Koreans
and brotherly friendship with them. Economic cooperation and cultural and sports
exchanges took place in a considerable scale. In this renewed state of
stability, the end looked near for the era of the Cold war in the Korean
peninsula for good.
But with the launch of the new
government, the inter-Korean relations went sour very quickly and is going from
bad to worse. Many people watching this reality express grave concerns. But I
believe that the situation will not last long as it is. When the South and the
North are dragged into confrontation and fighting, they will stand to incur a
loss. When they reconcile and cooperate, all will enjoy stability and
prosperity. Moreover all Koreans strongly aspire to recover inter-Korean
reconciliation and cooperation that they experienced in the wake of the
historic 2000 inter-Korean summit.
Just like the Ostpolitik enhanced
inter-German peace and cooperation eventually resulting in peaceful
unification, the Korean Sunshine Policy will regain its strength and contribute
to peace-building in the Korean peninsula and laying foundation for co-prosperity
of both Koreasvery soon. That is because it is the way the whole 70 million Koreans want to
Ladies and gentlemen!
So far, I have talked about how similar
paths and destiny Germanyand Koreahave shared and what commonalities the Ostpolitik and the Sunshine Policy have.
The Ostpolitik succeeded in history earlier. Now it is time for the Sunshine
Policy. I wish that Germanywhich has already succeeded in achieving its intended purpose do not spare any
support for Koreato be successful with the Sunshine Policy. I believe that Korean people should
hold us firmly with thinking that we should never allow bloody confrontation
and hatred to set in within ourselves. And I would like to ask all Koreans to
give their full support to the Sunshine Policy, which is the only option
available and aligned with the proven Ostpolitik.
Last but not least, let us pay a
tribute to Chancellor Brandt once again, and wish that Germany and Korea can further enhance our
friendly and cooperative relationship.