Unifying the North and South

In their July/August issue, Foreign Affairs published an analysis of possible reunification of North and South Korea. Ever since Kim Il Sung took power of North Korea in 1948, other nations predicted failure for the country. Over time, the United States, South Korea, Japan and China have closely watched the weak nation and saw the tenacity of its leaders. Kim Jong Il, the second heir, ruled with an iron fist since 1994 until he died in 2011, and then his son, Kim Jong Un took over. This reign for 66 years has lasted longer than most officials believed because much of its history has shown an unstable economy, yet it still thrives.

There are many issues with this totalitarian regime that concerns most of the world. From extreme poverty to execution when breaking silly laws, citizens of the freedomless nation are attempting to escape. Citizens like Yeonmi Park, whom I wrote about in a previous post, risk their lives to leave that kind of tyranny.

According to the analysis, reunification will most likely occur when "North Korea, staggering under the weight of economic and social forces, implodes and gets absorbed by South Korea." This is known as a 'hard landing' scenario because it would mean extreme circumstances will have to take place in order to start the reunification process. Most South Koreans would rather have a soft landing, the most unlikely scenario, where "Pyongyang adopts the Chinese economic model, eschews militarism, and undertakes a gradual rapprochement with Seoul." The last scenario mentioned, and the least attractive to all nations is taking the North by military force.

Foreign Affairs looked at all of these scenarios and realized how much work it would take, regardless of how appealing the situation is. They also looked into the benefits of reunification. Much humanitarian work would begin to rise to help those families in the North. The new Korea would have a very well established workforce, boosting their economy since 17 million more able workers will enter the labor force. And the new Korea could surpass nations like Germany, France and Japan in terms of gross domestic product.

Unification would actually be better for all of us, but it would mean multiple nations working together to shoulder these costs. The South can't do all the work on their own, so with the help of the U.S., China, Japan and even Russia, the entire nation can become more progressive and well-established.

In a Yonhap article published earlier this week, it was reported that South Korea would begin raising $500 billion in the private sector just for reunification purposes. This kind of fundraising seems to show a great effort on the South's part to start the process sooner rather than later.

Reunification will be an economic challenge, maybe even more so than when East and West Germany were unified after the Cold War, but negotiations for near-future reunification is deemed a more favorable option than letting the North continue as it is.