The German unification in 1989/90 may be considered an example of the (re-)union of divided states. Especially for divided countries like Korea, this model - even if it is not directly transferable - is a most interesting object of study.
Since early 2010, a project team has undertaken a study of these events at the Institute for Korean Studies at the Free University of Berlin. Not only did the Korean Ministry of Unification commission this research, but also in spring 2011, the Government of the South Korean province of Gyeonggi-do commissioned further research services for specific problems.
In collaboration with other institutions of FU and with colleagues in Germany and other leading Korean universities, the research design and selection criteria to be examined were developed, as well as research into possible problem areas. For each of the selected problem areas, a special band of material was compiled by the project team and by external experts. In addition to the compilation and analysis of documents contained in these volumes, it also includes reports of interviews with witnesses. To date, 24 volumes of such material have been submitted to the German unification commission, and 20 volumes have been prepared in order to document the "special path" of Brandenburg. The current results of research can be viewed in the reading room of the library of the Otto-Suhr Institute for Political Science at the Free University. Also, a DVD was created to present the research results in digital format (PDF files).
The research is also accompanied by continuous workshops with academics and intensive exchanges and discussions with Korean and German institutions / individuals. In special seminars organized by the Institute for Korean Studies, Korean officials who deal with these subjects on a regular basis are informed of the content contained in the volumes specifically and in detail. The project team is supported by a committee whose members include both witnesses and actors in the critical time of unification of both parts of Germany.
The project work is based essentially on a knowledge of interest, which is guided by research questions such as:
What scope do weak systems have in a transitional phase? (e.g. the Modrow government)
What were the realistic options for the design of the unification process? (the meaning of important decisions such as the elections in the GDR in March 1990 and the establishment of Monetary Union in July 1990.)
For all the major physical differences, what developments (in which scenarios) in Germany could be relevant for Korea?
What evidence is there for the general transfer of knowledge, for the provision of external experience, what gaps exist here and how can the theory of knowledge transfer be developed?
Due to the ongoing academic and institutional exchanges with partners in Germany and Korea, the research questions are still under continuous development.