Bridging The Divide: A Neutral Approach To Peace On The Korean Peninsula – OpEd


Tensions have also continued in the Korean Peninsula despite previous diplomatic initiatives. In this elaborate game that the region has been playing, Russia and North Korea are complicating things even further with their recent special agreement, which should leave you in no doubt as to how complex a situation we’re dealing with and why creative solutions must be pursued if stability is to return to this region. The rest of this essay will suggest the bridge builder as a hopeful way to stabilize the Korean Peninsula.

The Current Role of the Four Major Powers and the Challenges ahead

For instance, Russia, China, the USA and Japan have ulterior motives in the Korean Peninsula therefore USSR is not entitled to attack North Korea just because they possess nuclear weapons. The thing is that China also sees North Korea as a strategic buffer against an encroaching US military and wants stability over denuclearization. The latter side is composed of Russia, which partners with North Korea for strategic placement and economic purposes. The US pursues deterrence and denuclearization, yet frequently fans the flames of contention. Tokyo is mainly concerned with North Korea’s missile program and abductions of Japanese citizens, but it also backs sanctions and military readiness. Nevertheless, the peninsula remains unstable and a new way of addressing this problem is needed.

Latest Advancements and Agreements

The new Russian-North Korean special agreement only complicates matters further by underlining the inability of current diplomatic frameworks to deal with such a scenario. Peace, however, remains fragile amidst challenges including those related to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the use of economic sanctions and border tussles.

Imagining Bridging Conceptualised

Bridge Builder ~ Definition & Traits

In the Korean Peninsula, a bridge builder is an entity or nation that is neutral, impartial, diplomatic and a model of peace and stability. This would include roles that ranged from facilitating dialogue and compliance monitoring to providing humanitarian and economic assistance. Given their diplomatic credibility and traditions of mediation, neutral states such as Switzerland, Sweden and Indonesia and major international organizations like the United Nations and ASEAN are particularly well suited to play these roles.

Candidates for the Bridge Builder

Switzerland and Sweden given their long history of being neutral states and skilful mediation in international conflicts have the potential to serve as bridge builders. As noted above, Indonesia too can be a bridge builder using its considerable influence within Southeast Asia and the Non-Aligned Movement. There is also scope for multilateral engagement through regional outfits such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). 

The Bridge Builder Role: A Strategic Framework for Operationalization Multilateral Venue Selection based on Typology – Challenges and Overcoming Them-Resistance from Systemic Powers

Bridge-building on the Korean Peninsula is a tough task by itself given the opposition created by key bridge builders. Taking some kind of action in a preventative way can make it-or-break-it outrageousness.

There could be a challenge in terms of scepticism of big powers to join a multilateral platform. The bridge builder can mitigate and explain this by emphasizing how their presence would further stability and economic prospects. Better communication or simultaneity can reduce resistance, such as an equal vision of peace and cooperation.

Power dynamics between major powers could also pose an additional threat to such progress. To do that, it is imperative for everyone involved to be the same sit back and relax think equally responsibly and be decision-makers. Bolster open debate and party unity to better withstand power struggles.

There will also be resistance from individual countries, who may too quickly see their unique interests as threatened by the initiatives of the bridge builder. Diplomatic engagements are needed to talk about the mutual gains and allay fears in such a case. It is not for nothing that transparency and win-win solutions can pose as panaceas from this evil of resistance.

Bridge builders should forge a multilateral platform engaging all key stakeholders, encourage confidence-building measures, draw lessons from successful models and focus on anticipated challenges and resistance A focus on win-win, nonaligned engagement and commitment to long-term peaceful coexistence can help fully cement peace and cooperation in the Mideast.

The major powers may prove too afraid of losing their grip to serve as bridge-builders. What is necessary to reassure them is to show them the long-term benefits that come with stability, namely economic growth for the region as a whole and less military spending. Talking to them, and providing this level of assurance will guarantee their involvement.

The relationships between North and South Korea are a lot more complicated and involve dealing with decades of grievances and mistrust. The bridge builder can breed confidence by arranging common historical commissions and cultural exchanges so that victims on both sides see each other not just as opponents but also as people like ourselves. Closer people-to-people contacts and joint development projects also go a long way in transforming hostility. Sustainable peace needs monitoring – and adjustments to evolving geopolitical dynamics Regular Review of all stakeholders – The bridge builder should set up mechanisms for regular audit and feedback Being flexible and keeping long-term objectives are stabilizing.


So, to conclude, they are all failed major powers and there is a need for a different road. The bridge builder, with its neutrality, and diplomatic agility, representing the third side of the triangle for peace seems to be a solution. Addressing structural issues and cultivating sustainable peace the bridge builder can enable dialogue, promote trust-building measures in a way that is mutually reinforcing and learn from potential successes. In doing so, it will furnish the international support needed and demonstrate a real commitment to this diplomatic path while also providing a foundation upon which to build a cooperative future for the Korean Peninsula. That future carries colossal global consequences for stability and security.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.


  1. Armstrong, C. K. (2013). The Koreas. Routledge.
  2. Cha, V. D. (2018). The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future. Ecco.
  3. Kim, S. (2006). The Two Koreas and the Great Powers. Cambridge University Press.
  4. Lankov, A. (2013). The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia. Oxford University Press.
  5. United Nations. (2021). UN Role in Mediation and Conflict Resolution. Retrieved from
  6. Wada, H. (2012). The Korean War: An International History. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.


Simon Hutagalung

Simon Hutagalung is a retired diplomat from the Indonesian Foreign Ministry and received his master's degree in political science and comparative politics from the City University of New York. The opinions expressed in his articles are his own.

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