Kim Dae-jung is Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

There can be little doubt that to date Kim Dae-jung has been the prime mover behind the ongoing process of détente and reconciliation.

Perhaps his role can best be compared with Willy Brandt's, whose Ostpolitik was of such fundamental importance in the normalisation between the two German states, and won him the Peace Prize. Brandt's Ostpolitik alone could not have led to German unification, but it was a prerequisite for the union which followed in 1989-90. From South Korea's point of view, the political side of Germany's unification looks attractive, while the economic side, with a price tag that may be much higher in Korea than in Germany, is a warning to make haste slowly.

His policy of engagement with North Korea has been termed the Sunshine Policy. He moved to begin detente with the totalitarian regime in North Korea, which culminated in a historic summit meeting in 2000 in Pyongyang with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. This began a now decade-old process of frustrating, but continuing direct contact with Pyongyang. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for these efforts. After the 2000 Summit, the historic event was tainted to a degree by revelations that at least several hundred million dollars had been paid to Pyongyang. The payment does not destroy the value of the dramatic breakthrough negotiation. The North Korean leader, however, never kept his promise to reciprocate by visiting South Korea. North Korea has not reduced the heavy presence of troops in the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) and has continued to work on developing nuclear weapons, which it tested in October 2006.