I came across the fable of the The North Wind and the Sun in the process of reading about the history and of the diplomatic process, or rather the legacy of bitter opposition between North and South Korea following their great schism.

South Korean Presiden Kim Dae-jung was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000, two years after initating and enacting the Sunshine Policy as official state policy towards North Korea. This policy was initially successful prompting the first summit between leaders since the war and the realization of reunion between families long separated were met.

The success of the policy, while short lived, was aimed at fostering dialogue and diplomacy through a display of economic investment/assistance and offering of humanitarian aid; while also expressing the desire to resist absorbing North Korea or undermining it’s sovereignty, and by stating it’s intentions for a peaceful and prosperous two state cohabitation among other things. South Korea had certain conditions and expectations as to be expected, and generally they hoped this policy would encourage North Korea to reciprocate a corresponding show and effort of goodwill and cooperation, which the North ultimately perceived to be a form of coercion through a series of polite ultimatums.

The policy, in spite of its optimism and considering the parties involved (some may find it unrealistic or conversely others may believe it was poorly executed) had many redeeming features; and at its core of The Sunshine Policy is this fable – which has many lessons in the micro, macro, and in between.

There’s an interesting dichotomy between knowing when to go against the grain because it’s the way of the soul while also realizing that sometimes the obstacle is the way.There are a few versions of it existing but I prefer this one.

From Aesop for Children (1919)


The North Wind and the Sun had a quarrel about which of them was the stronger. While they were disputing with much heat and bluster, a Traveler passed along the road wrapped in a cloak.

“Let us agree,” said the Sun, “that he is the stronger who can strip that Traveler of his cloak.”

“Very well,” growled the North Wind, and at once sent a cold, howling blast against the Traveler.

With the first gust of wind the ends of the cloak whipped about the Traveler’s body. But he immediately wrapped it closely around him, and the harder the Wind blew, the tighter he held it to him. The North Wind tore angrily at the cloak, but all his efforts were in vain.

Then the Sun began to shine. At first his beams were gentle, and in the pleasant warmth after the bitter cold of the North Wind, the Traveler unfastened his cloak and let it hang loosely from his shoulders. The Sun’s rays grew warmer and warmer. The man took off his cap and mopped his brow. At last he became so heated that he pulled off his cloak, and, to escape the blazing sunshine, threw himself down in the welcome shade of a tree by the roadside.

“Gentleness and kind persuasion win where force and bluster fail.”

Illustrations by Milo Winter