The Dream of Borderlessness
On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Goethe-Institut makes to division of Korea interactively come alive with the digital game Wallpeckers – From the DMZ to the Berlin Wall. Bumgoo Jong, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, sees cautious signs of rapprochement between the two Koreas.
By Annette Walter
Korean division is still lived reality, Bumgoo Jong, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Berlin, reminded guests at the premiere of the game Wallpeckers – From the DMZ to the Berlin Wall at the visitors’ centre of the Berlin Wall Memorial. His homeland has been divided since 1945. The ambassador, however, sees cautious signs of rapprochement between the two sides, such as the fact that border posts at the inter-Korean border have been dismantled and a joint Korean team played at this year’s World Handball Championship. “My dream is that the border in Korea will one day fall and people will be able to move about freely,” said Jong, expressing his hope for the future.
“My dream is that the border in Korea will one day fall,” said Bumgoo Jong, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea | Photo: Anja Kessler
Overcoming the wall in the hearts of the people
But the path there is a long one. Jeong Se-hyun, retired Minister of Unification of the Republic of Korea, regrets that young people in South Korea show no interest in unity. “It is the tragedy we have to live with.” He considers the possibility of lifting the border in Korea very low. “There is a wall in the hearts of the people on the Korean Peninsula.” In his view, this wall is getting higher and higher. Nevertheless, he sees German reunification as an example. “We want to be just like Germany when it comes to the issue of unity.” His proposal to Hartmut Koschyk, co-chair of the German-Korean Forum, was, “Invite South and North Korean game designers to Berlin and let them work together.”
Jeong Se-hyun, retired Minister of Unification of the Republic of Korea, and Hartmut Koschyk, co-chair of the German-Korean Forum, discussing experiences of the division of Korea and the DMZ | Photo: Anja Kessler The Wallpeckers game could be a starting signal for an increasing interest of young people in the problem of the division of Korea. “We wanted the game to address an artistically and digitally oriented audience,” said Johannes Ebert, secretary-general of the Goethe-Institut.
Johannes Ebert, secretary-general of the Goethe-Institut, is one of the first to try playing the Wallpeckers game | Photo: Anja Kessler
Experience divided historyHow does Wallpeckers work? The players first download the app to their smartphone. In it, the player assumes a virtual identity as a journalist and thus dives deeply into the topic. In this function, the participants research newspaper reports on politics, sport and culture dealing with the demilitarised zone in Korea and the Berlin Wall. The research is based on text modules, which can be read on panels in an extensively illustrated installation in the Wall Memorial. There they can find a wealth of information about aspects of the division and reunification process, for example, the entry of West German citizens into West Berlin, which was once only possible via East German territory, but also via an underground tunnel from North to South Korea that people used as an escape route. From these reports, a newspaper is finally created, which can then be sent by e-mail.
Exploring the topic of the demilitarised zone in Korea and the Berlin Wall through gaming | Photo: Anja Kessler Wallpeckers can be played in Berlin until 3 February 2019. On 24 January 2019, the game will celebrate its Korean premiere in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) by symbolic Dorasan Station, South Korea’s final railway station before the border.