Special Forum

Beijing and Seoul have experienced ups and downs in their relationship over the thirty years since the end of the Cold War. At times, such as when President Park Geun-hye stood beside General Secretary Xi Jinping on the Beijing review stand at the parade in honor of the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, it appeared that history would not be a barrier to closer ties. At other times, such as when the Koguryo issue flared a decade earlier, ancient history interfered with relations. The most persistent history theme was the shared resentment against Japan for its aggression and occupation lasting to 1945. Often lost as these historical issues flared were differences in how China and South Korea interpreted the end of the Cold War and their impact on relations. This gains more salience in 2020 when linkages between 1945 and 1989-91 are in the forefront, implicating the role of North Korea in the mainstream narratives on both sides.

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