Unificationism promises the advent of a unified world, where heaven, humankind and earth live in harmony. On the path toward unification, a major obstacle is that of partitioned states, beginning with Korea.
University of Pennsylvania political scientist Brendan O’Leary defines political partition as “an externally proposed or imposed fresh border cut through at least one community’s national homeland, creating at least two separate units under different sovereigns and authorities.”
Partitions have occurred throughout history, seldom bringing good results. Some were considered a “lesser evil” or a “necessary evil.” Here I consider contemporary partitions which have been or still are major obstacles for the Providence.
The “Two nations are in your womb” paradigm
Unificationism in general sees partitions as resulting from a failure of human responsibility to achieve unity or integration. There is then a division into two parts, one representing relative good (Abel) and the other relative evil (Cain). A major input of Unificationism is to emphasize the pivotal role of women in the origin (Eve) of and the final solution (Rebecca) to the partition.
When Rebecca protested to God about the struggle of the two twins, Esau and Jacob, in her womb, the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” (Gen. 25:23)
This paradigm of the “two nations in the womb” is relevant in four of the five cases presented here.
The external cause of many partitions in the 20th century was the process of decolonization: the colonial power was unable to give birth to two communities or states living harmoniously and cooperatively, but gave birth to twins sharply pitted against one another.
I cover five partitions which had a direct impact on the Providence, grouped together for three reasons of direct concern for Unificationism:
- The five cases took place in 1947-48, when True Father entered Hungnam prison camp. Three took place in May 1948, 70 years ago.
- They were serious and each resulted in a nuclear arms race, a problem addressed by True Mother, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon.
- Four of them were very typical of the “two nations are in your womb” paradigm.
The main partition concerned Korea. With the winds of change blowing in Korea this past spring, 70 years after its permanent partition, this discussion is timely.
The tragic partitions of 1948
According to Divine Principle, through the world wars, the world was gradually divided into two antagonistic camps, one on God’s side, the other on Satan’s side. This worldwide division is the prelude to the final unification of humankind under the Lord of the Second Advent. He comes to give rebirth to humanity through his marriage with the Bride. True Father, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and True Mother together enable Cain and Abel, divided throughout history, to be reborn in the Mother’s womb and go to the True Father.
This process was to start right after World War II. True Father began his public ministry in Korea, which gained independence on August 15, 1945, after, in effect, 40 years of colonial rule by Japan (but Korea was temporarily divided at the 38th parallel to effect the surrender of Japanese troops to the U.S. and USSR). One may see a similarity with Vietnam, a former French colony, also occupied by Japan (1941-45). At the end of World War II, southern Vietnam surrendered to the British who returned it to French control, while the Chinese accepted Ho Chi Minh’s provisional government in Hanoi. In 1954, Vietnam was divided into two states. Three decades of war resulted in reunification under a communist regime in 1975.
“Mother Japan,” North and South Korea
Tragically, independence from Japan gave birth to two enemy nations, North Korea under Soviet influence, and South Korea, under American influence. Divine Principle sees Japan as the Eve nation among the Axis powers of World War II. Japan did not cause the division directly, but its military presence on the peninsula required that the Allied nations receive the surrender of its troops.
During 1945-48, there may have been a possibility for a less tragic outcome than the permanent division of Korea in May 1948. And the same uncertainty existed, during the same period, in the four other cases we shall review. Tragically, in 1948, partitions occurred in five places around the globe, the most serious in Korea, the homeland of Unificationism. Why?
After being tortured by the police, Reverend Moon continued preaching in Pyongyang, North Korea, was arrested in February 1948, and put on trial. He was sent to Hungnam prison on May 20, 1948.
Ten days earlier, Constitutional Assembly elections were held in southern Korea, under American military occupation, supervised by the United Nations (the Soviets would not permit the UN to supervise elections in the north, who instead set up a Supreme People’s Assembly in August 1948), which led to the formation of the Republic of Korea on August 15, 1948 and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on September 9, 1948. Many foreign observers and some Korean politicians opposed the idea of holding elections in the south at that time because it could jeopardize the possibility of future unification. De facto partition was about to become a de jure partition between two states belonging to two ideological camps.
The election stirred violence throughout South Korea. During the Jeju uprising and its suppression (April 1948-August 1949), up to 10% of the island’s population was killed. Another 40,000 fled to Japan. The new nation was truly born under a bad sign, and this situation became even worse two years later, with the outbreak of the Korean War.
According to Divine Principle:
“Korea, the nation where Christ will return, is the place most dear to God and most abhorred by Satan. It is a place where the forces of democracy and the forces of communism collide. This line of confrontation is Korea’s thirty-eighth parallel, which was drawn to fulfill the providence of God. At the point of confrontation, a sacrifice must be offered as the condition to determine the outcome of their struggle. The Korean people were this sacrifice, to be offered for the sake of the restoration of the universe. Therefore, God divided the Korean nation, just as Abraham’s sacrifices were supposed to be divided. This is the reason behind the division of Korea…, which split it into two nations: one Cain-type and the other Abel-type.”
‘‘Two nations are in your womb’’
Mother England, Israel and Palestine
The partition that occurred in May 1948 put an end to the British Mandate of Palestine (1920-48), established following the defeat of the Ottoman empire in World War I. The United Kingdom, acting as a mother with twins in her womb, could not find a solution for the coexistence of Palestine’s Jews and Arabs.
The UN played a crucial role in the inception of the Republic of Korea. It was also involved in the birth of the State of Israel and in November 1947 proposed a partition of Palestine under the British Mandate between Jewish and Arab states. The Arabs rejected the proposal, resulting in civil war between Palestinian Arabs and Jews, and the Jews proclaimed their independence on May 14, 1948. The next day, a coalition of Arab states declared war on Israel.
After seven decades, no solution has yet been found to offer peaceful coexistence between Israel and Palestine, such as a two-state solution with agreed upon borders.
Palestine exists as a de jure sovereign state, and is recognized by the United Nations if not by many individual states, but is itself divided between the Gaza Strip, under Hamas rule, and the West Bank under the PLO (partition within the partition). The existence of Jewish settlements within the Occupied Territories creates further partitions within these major partitions, thus making the daily life of Palestinians extremely difficult.
Apartheid and the partition of South Africa
“Apartheid” is an Afrikaans word meaning “separateness” to describe the ideology and action plan of separated development (and racial segregation) in South Africa. South Africa had gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1910. The country had just experienced the second Boer War, where the British empire finally defeated the Afrikaner States. The Afrikaners were very resentful for this defeat. Many had been put into concentration camps. Apartheid can also be seen as revenge against England.
During the elections of May 26, 1948, Jan Smuts was defeated by pastor Daniel François Malan who had promised to implement apartheid. Smuts had coined the term holism. He believed that South Africa could gradually become a multiracial nation with equal rights. Smuts was the only person to sign the charters of both the League of Nations and the United Nations.
Map of the black homelands in South Africa at the end of apartheid in 1994
After Malan’s victory, apartheid dominated South Africa for 40 years. The regime had a totalitarian policy against the majority of the population (black and colored). The ethnic segregation practiced in South Africa resulted in the partitions of its territory into Bantustans (homelands). Bantustans represented only 13% of the territory and were enclaves within a vast territory controlled and populated by whites.
The apartheid system was dismantled in 1990. The economic and social problems existing in South Africa have not all been resolved. But South Africa has proven it can survive as a multiracial country where whites are now the minority but are able to contribute in a much more meaningful way than before to South Africa’s role as a regional power.
Gandhi and the vivisection of mother India
India is the fourth case of a partition (1947-48) with the paradigm of “two nations are in your womb.” Mahatma Gandhi sought the independence of India from the United Kingdom. Yet, he was aware the British empire had been able to maintain a multiethnic and multireligious India. As independence approached, Gandhi tried to act as a motherly figure having “two twins within him”: the Muslim leader, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and the Hindu leader, Jawaharlal Nehru.
But Jinnah gradually shifted to the two-nation theory, which held that the primary identity and unifying denominator of Muslims in the Indian subcontinent was their religion, not their language or ethnicity. Indian Hindus and Muslims were thus two distinct nations, regardless of ethnic or other commonalities. The two-nation theory was a founding principle of the Pakistan Movement partition from India. The partition of British India in August 1947 displaced over 14 million people, causing immense suffering on both sides. Gandhi, watching what he called the “vivisection of the mother,” fell into despair. He did not survive the partition. A Hindu nationalist assassinated Gandhi in January 1948.
The partition of Europe (1948-89)
The final partition of 1948 was that of Europe. The situation on the Korean peninsula remained uncertain in 1945-48. So did the situation of Europe for the three years after World War II. The Soviets had their sphere of influence in Eastern Europe, but it was only in 1948 that two camps gradually emerged, after the Prague coup of February 1948. The Stalinization of Eastern Europe actually began in 1948-49 and lasted exactly 40 years, until the nonviolent revolutions that culminated with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The partition of Europe, especially the division of Germany into two rival states, is closest to the Korean partition — with two major differences. First, the paradigm of “two nations are in your womb’’ is not applicable. Second, while we can understand that the postwar partition of Germany was necessary because of its crimes committed under Nazi rule, the injustice of imposing partition upon Korea, the victim of Japanese imperialism, is obvious.
Partitions and nuclear proliferation
Each of the partitions above resulted in efforts to build the atomic bomb. Conversely, the end of apartheid prompted South Africa to abandon its nuclear weapons. Nuclear proliferation which has gone uncontrolled since World War II is largely a consequence of these partitions.
In postwar Europe, the United Kingdom and France both launched nuclear programs. The rest of Western Europe was under the nuclear umbrella of the United States. The ideological confrontation between NATO and the Warsaw Pact was marked by nuclear deterrence.
The May 1948 war proved the entire Arab world rejected the existence of the State of Israel. Over the years, Israel developed its own nuclear capability but will not acknowledge it.
South Africa, under apartheid, developed its own nuclear weapons and was prompted to accelerate its program with the emergence of communist regimes in Angola and Madagascar.
The proliferation of nuclear weapons in Asia is also largely due to partitions. The New Delhi government was initially compelled to develop nuclear capabilities to deter potential Chinese aggression. The short war between Pakistan and India in 1971 accelerated its program and the first nuclear device was tested under Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1974. That year, Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto stressed he would never accept “Indian hegemony or domination over the subcontinent.” In 1965, he declared, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own. We have no alternative.”
He later also said:
“We know that Israel and South Africa have full nuclear capability. That Christian, Jewish and Hindu civilizations have this capability. The Communist powers also possess it. Only the Islamic civilization was without it, but that position was about to change.”
More recently, the most serious global crisis of nuclear proliferation came from the Korean peninsula. South Korean president Park Chung-hee first spoke of his desire to possess nuclear weapons in 1975. However, South Korea did not develop a nuclear weapons capability, restrained by the U.S. On the other hand, by 2017, Pyongyang began to reach its maturity as a nuclear power. In 1962, the country began a process called “all-fortressization,” which included the total militarization of the nation and the development of nuclear capabilities. However, both the USSR and China were reluctant to help their ideological ally achieve nuclear capability. In the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, North Korea slowly built up its own nuclear capability, through the most recent crisis last year.
What can be done in 2018, 70 years after Korean division? At their Singapore summit in June, Chairman Kim Jong Un reportedly said to President Donald Trump, “Many people in the world will think of this as a form of fantasy…from a science fiction movie.”
Did he feel that, behind the chronos, historical and man-measured time, a mysterious kairos was at work? As True Mother often emphasizes, human efforts are not sufficient. In the 1980s, a peaceful end to partitions in Europe or in South Africa seemed unlikely. Yet, all Eastern Europe was swept by the winds of change in 1989: the Berlin Wall fell and Germany quickly achieved reunification. In South Africa, the end of apartheid was accomplished in the same period. Two partitions were thus overcome after a “biblical period” of 40 years. At that time, prospects for change also existed in the Middle East and in Korea.
The current situation in Korea seems unpredictable and yet fated by destiny. Seventy years after the permanent division of 1948, powerful factors are working to bring about denuclearization, a possible prelude to unification. Externally, three heads of state are doing their best: after the first meeting between President Moon Jae In and Chairman Kim Jong Un in Panmunjom on April 27, President Donald Trump held his historical meeting with Kim in Singapore on June 12.
Internally, Unificationists should believe that God almighty is fully exercising His will behind the scenes. True Mother, in leading the Unification movement, has proclaimed herself the only begotten daughter of God, a new theological concept. For the past two years, she increasingly has described herself as the mother of all humankind, presiding over huge rallies in Japan, Korea, the USA, Europe, and soon, Latin America. In the current religious world, she is the only woman leading a comprehensive global campaign for peace. After her rally in Seoul in November 2017, attended by 80,000, positive inter-Korean momentum began in January, leading to the breakthrough of the Winter Olympics in February. Even when Chairman Kim and President Moon met in April at Panmunjom, True Mother’s attitude was the entire situation was in God’s hands. She never directly spoke of the political situation. However, clearly the dramatic changes now taking place on the divided Korean peninsula are more than mere coincidence.♦
Laurent Ladouce is a French Unificationist who was awarded an honorary doctorate by Unification Theological Seminary in 2017. A prolific author of Unificationist publications, he also published the book, Le Projet Pakxe: une contribution du Laos à l’unité de l’Asie du Sud‐Est et à la Paix Mondiale, describing the rising role of city diplomacy and proposing a plan to make Pakxe, Laos, an international city of peace. He currently works for Unificationist media in Korea.