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Readers’ VOICE

On Korean reunification...

First of all, it should be sought. The question for South Koreans complaining of the negative economic consequences of reunification needs to be reformulated into a moral question: Is reunification the morally correct thing to do?

I would argue yes. As regards the economic issue, the Ministry of Unification and the government have put aside a significantly sized unification budget. There would also need to be a temporary border along the lines of a federation, which is exactly what was being considered in the early 2000s under Kim Dae-jung.

Which brings us to the way; the way would seem to be a mutually agreed federation. People (scholars and journalists especially) have been saying for decades that North Korea would collapse. It hasn’t, and we can guess that it may not collapse in the future. Nonetheless it seems that the current situation may be untenable in the long run, and the North Korean regime may have to consider a federation situation like that considered in the early 2000s. So, can it happen soon?

In my opinion, yes, within the next five years there could be a federation agreed upon, with a transition to eventual full reunification agreed by both governments. All of this is contingent on how the U.S., China and South Korea engage with North Korea. Hopefully they will recognize the benefits of a reunified Korea.

A reunified Korea is especially in China’s and South Korea’s interests. South Korea would have a larger market, workforce, and eventually more clout in Asia (this is of course dependent on managing the transition well, and learning from the mistakes of the reunification of East and West Germany).

A reunified Korea would possibly align itself more closely with China, unlike the present situation where the South Korean government seems to have aligned itself closely with the U.S. China and Korea are so closely allied though trade.

It would be a breath of fresh air to the realm of international politics to see them closely aligned politically. On a completely personal level, it actually upsets me when I hear South Korean people tell me they don’t want to reunite with North Korea, because it would be bad for the economy. It strikes me as being morally unconscious. Unification through absorption is unlikely.

A controlled reunification would be the best remedy for the present ― let’s be honest ― ridiculous Korean situation.

― Brian Arundel, Seoul, via Facebook

Considering Kim Jong-un’s actions ― such as again asking the U.S. Army stationed in Korea to move out, after 5 years of silence ― I believe that reunification in the near future is unlikely. It is time for both Koreas to step back and look at each other’s movements for more information such as any possibility of war. They should be peaceful to each other but it is too early for reunification.

The new leader being more open to foreign cultures might help North Korea to grow economically. This growth would help reunification to be carried out faster since South Korea would have fewer burdens financially. Unfortunately, today is not the time for reunification both economically and culturally.

― Yuh Yun-sung, Daegu, via Facebook

At a time when people were having a good time toward the year-end, there was news that made people tremble with fear for the future. It was the death of North Korea’s dictator.

Watching this news, some had hope for unification. But others thought of what to do should war take place, including me. If you ask me about the future of the Korean Peninsula, I stand on the negative side.

To explain my thoughts we need to look back to the situation decades ago. Basically, the present problem of South and North doesn’t just matter for South and North. Korea was colony of Japan at that time, then separated from Japan when the U.S. struck Japan with two atomic bombs.

Though the atomic bombs were developed during World War II and initially it was not known whether they would be a success, as a result of the bomb, Japan declared an unconditional surrender in the 1945.

Under this situation, the former Soviet Union moved down the peninsula, creating a communist country to widen its domain. America moved up the peninsula to prevent the USSR’s ambitions.

Ultimately, the Korea peninsula was divided into South and North. In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. North Korea could have occupied all the peninsula but with the aid of U.N. troops, South Korea lashed back.

Then China intervened in the war. Finally a cease-fire agreement was signed in 1953 and this is where we are today.

Reunification can be accomplished not only if North and South Korea want it, but if all the countries related to the peninsula want it. For this, enough time is needed.

― So Kyung-suu, Seoul
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