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Chunnel Friendship



한·중·일 3국 정상은 지난 5월 서울-신의주-중국 철도 건설 관련 논의를 나누었고, 향후 조사연구 등의 실무적 차원의 추진이 긍정적으로 검토될 예정임을 알렸다. 이 같은 맥락에서 한국과 일본을 연결하는 한일 해저터널 건설이 현재 다시 한번 세간의 주목을 받고 있다. 만약 한국, 북한 그리고 중국이 합심해 철도가 연결된다면, 이는 유럽에서 러시아 시베리아와 중국을 지나 한반도의 땅끝까지 이르는 유라시아 철도망이 만들어진다는 것인데, 여기에 일본이 어떻게든 가세하려 드는 것이 아닌가 하는 예측이 적지 않다. 한일 해저터널 구상은 1930년 일본에서 시작되었으나 1945년 일본이 2차대전에서 패망한 후 이 구상은 사그라들었다가 1980년 일본이 경제 강국이 되면서 다시 논의되었다. 공사 비용만 약 100조 원으로 예상되는 이 공사는 완성되기만 한다면 경제적으로 막대한 이익이 창출되겠지만 한국은 아직 미온적인 반응을 보이고 있다.

The past two centuries of the world has gone through roller coaster rides of unprecedented globalization. The twists and turns have brought about mind-boggling changes to how economies and cultures mingle with one another. The changing fashion of humanity can be discerned in everyday activities we might take for granted. Cruising in a car, commuting by bus or subway, and even boarding the occasional airliner may seem mundane to us, but these methods of transportation would have made our ancestor's jaws drop to the floor.

None of this would have been possible without our interconnecting web of roads, bridges and especially tunnels.

One of the greatest architectural achievement that has brought humanity closer together is the Channel Tunnel, also known as the "Chunnel." This is a behemoth 50-km structure connecting The United Kingdom to the wine-loving nation of France. Another project that has been on the tables for the past 100 years is the Korea-Japan "Chunnel." The tunnel would stretch a staggering 230 km and would adjoin Karatsu, Japan to the port city of Busan, Korea. So where is it? Why is this epic idea not in full play?

The answer is not so cut and dry, but one of the main roadblocks to this project is the emotionally historic relationship that manifests in both countries. It stems from Japan’s gross and frankly cruel mistreatment of the Korean peninsula during the age of imperialism. News outlets signal friendly reminders of this fact by shining the spotlight on past grievances. Despite all the commotions, this is precisely why Korea and Japan should cooperate and play nice in order to undertake this “friendship tunnel.” This would allow both countries to kiss and make up, and let past wounds heal slowly, but letting bygones be bygones has not been easy for either side. However, we can learn from the past mistakes and examples of other countries.

Again, retrospection on the Chunnel linking France and the United Kingdom. The two nations were once constantly at each other’s throats. Both probably deserve a championship belt or two for the most number of wars battled. The only thing they bicker about these days is who has the better football team.

This tunnel system would bolster Korea and Japan's economies, which have both been looking a bit bleak for the past few years. The construction of the tunnel would not only create new jobs for both parties, but it would also make buying that new Sony console or Samsung smartphone that much cheaper. You could also go on an adventurous road trip spanning the Korean and Japanese countryside, and not be tied to a strict airline schedule that anchors you to a single city.

This tunnel would also grant Korea and Japan more power to combat the boogeyman that lives around the corner, China. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tends to be the ruthless bully at the playground, and this problem will only exacerbate as China tries to reclaim its title as the “Middle Kingdom.”

Indisputably, the construction of this tunnel will require Korea and Japan to break the bank in order to make this dream a reality. However, the long-term benefits would outweigh any upfront costs. We live in a world where bridges or in this case a tunnel, not walls, are necessary to help bring about prosperity. The construction of such a mega project would not only permit breadwinners to bring home more bacon, but it would also go down in the history books for generations to come. History would remember it as one of the most significant achievements made possible through friendship and cooperation. It would mark a new chapter for Korea and Japan, one filled with cooperation and not filled with bitter resentment.