On a divided Korean peninsula, tales of King Dangun – the mythical founder of the first Korean kingdom more than 4,350 years ago – play a quiet but persistent role in keeping the dream of reunification alive. This mythology made an appearance in September when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took South Korean President Moon Jae-in to the top of Mount Paektu, the supposed birthplace of Dangun. Moon also invoked the legend in an unprecedented speech in Pyongyang, calling for Korea to be reunited. “We had lived together for 5,000 years but apart for just 70 years,” said Moon, whose parents came from what is now North Korea. For many South Koreans, the idea of unification has become increasingly unrealistic amid a widening gulf between the two Koreas more than 70 years after they were partitioned in the wake of World War II. The legend of Dangun, however, plays a lasting role in promoting unification because it portrays Koreans as a homogenous group destined to live together, said Jeong Young-Hun, a professor at Seoul’s Academy of Korean Studies. “Dangun is a basis for Koreans to feel the necessity for pursuing harmony and unification,” he said. “Dangun is a basis… Read full this story
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