News / Asia

    South Korea Committee to Prepare for Reunification with North

    FILE - South Korea's President Park Geun-hye.
    FILE - South Korea's President Park Geun-hye.
    Daniel Schearf
    South Korea's President Park Geun-hye, has announced a committee to prepare for reunification with North Korea. President Park said unifying with the north would be an economic bonanza, but analysts say the south would face a heavy financial and legal burden.
     
    President Park announced the plans to create a blue print for reuniting South Korea with the North on Tuesday.
     
    In a televised speech marking her first year in office, Park said she would form a preparatory committee directly under the presidential office. She said the committee will expand dialogue and private exchanges with Pyongyang.
     
    She also said the committee will allow all levels of society to participate, including experts in diplomacy, security, economics, sociology and culture, and private organizations. In this way, she said, they will create a national discussion on reunification and make a concrete blueprint of a 'unified Korean peninsula'.
     
    The two Koreas have remained divided since World War II separated them into a Soviet-influenced North and an U.S.-influenced South.
     
    Both Pyongyang and Seoul have reunification as a goal, but neither side specifies how they want it to happen, or under whose leadership.
     
    Most experts agree the wealthy South would have to pay the costs of absorbing the impoverished North.
     
    President Park in a New Year's speech described merging South Korea's advanced technology with North Korea's resources and cheap labor as an economic jackpot.
     
    Park's Tuesday speech focused on a three-year plan for South Korea's economy, which she said will benefit from reunifying with the North.
     
    Long ago, before Korea, she said, Germany reunified by preparing step by step.
     
    But many analysts point out East Germany's income was only a few times smaller than West Germany's when they reunified. By contrast, South Koreans' incomes are 18 times that of North Koreans' and the South's Gross National Income (GNI) is 38 times larger than the North's.
     
    South Korea's Finance Ministry last year estimated reunification could cost up to seven percent of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for a decade.
     
    That would amount to a total cost of close to $1 trillion; other estimates are even higher.
     
    Daniel Pinkston, Deputy Northeast Asia Director with the International Crisis Group, said South Korea also lacks a legal framework to assimilate North Korea.
     
    "If there were change in North Korea, in whatever kind of scenario you can think about. And, we move into a situation of transitional justice or dealing with mass migrations or displaced people and so on. There are many different scenarios that we can think about. But, in those cases, we don't have a legal framework," said Pinkston.
     
    President Park's comments come as relations are improving between the two Koreas and after a week of rare reunions of families separated since the Korean War.
     
    The two sides this month held the highest level dialogue in seven years, where they agreed to hold the family reunions and to avoid slandering each other.
     
    The deal was seen as a significant concession from Pyongyang, which had been threatening to call off the reunions over joint South Korea-U.S. military drills.
     
    The drills began as scheduled, though South Korea's Defense Ministry Tuesday said a North Korean ship crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL) separating the two Koreas.
     
    A ministry spokesman said the North Korean ship crossed into South Korean waters three times but turned back after being warned.
     
    VOA Seoul Bureau Producer Youmi Kim contributed to this report.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 3
        Next 
    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    February 27, 2014 10:25 PM
    I heard regular people in East Berlin could access freely to western media so that they were awared of richness of western sociey and eventually the unification of Germany was accomplished. I guess it depends on how much North Korean people could access to western intelligence whether eargerness for reunification is boosted from North side and achieved.

    by: Xiao Mang
    February 27, 2014 12:21 AM
    I want North Korea to be freed, but Tibet more so.

    by: neznaika
    February 26, 2014 4:10 PM
    Goodwill, incl. solidarity, mutual care, ability to put oneself in someone else's place, sincere compassion should be in the basis for promoting any kind of peaceful association.

    by: Romeo Lin
    February 26, 2014 8:56 AM
    As far as my knowledge is concerned, the two koreans have been trying to reunify , since like forever. What will be the difference this time around?
    In my opinion, there is an evil force working there and keeping the two koreans from reunification. And, what makes you think, the sick dictator in North will be interested in reunification? He and his sick followers simply don't have any incentives to even consider reunification. After all, they are eating and drinking well. And what makes you think, the dictator will ever conern about north koreans people, who are starving.

    by: B. Clancy from: Seoul S.Korea
    February 26, 2014 7:51 AM
    I'm a Canadian whose been living in S.Korea for 6 years. I'm married to a Korean whose father was from Pyeongnam and was sent to S.Korea, to preserve the family name, during the war. He hasn't heard from his 6 sisters since. I teach Korans of all ages, the youth know and think very little about N.Korea and Unification. The 20 to say 30ish year olds are generally against it. Cost is seems to be the main reason as well as N.K is another world even though it's an hour drive or 60km from Seoul. The older generations late 40's to 80's remember their parents stories of family lost and the seniors remember lost family.

    As time passes the nostalgia is forgotten in the bustle of the big city and life in Korea. Korean life is hard, it's not easy to get by, housing prices are astronomical and even renting you need 10'000's of thousands of dollars for deposit. Ours it's 25 million won and or approximately 25 thousand dollars and 1,250 a month. People will be hard pressed to pay a tax for a possible future unification, but one will likely be needed. As time passes the idea of unification will sadly lose support.

    I worry when/if North Korea government eventually collapses if N.Koreans won't be happy to join China, especially in the Northern region. China will also not easily allow N.Korea to collapse. Nor will they want a US ally on their doorstop. This may cause party of N.Korea to be Annexed by China. The resource rich north I believe. Korea had a traffic history of foreign powers occupying, splitting up and meddling in it's vistory. It has over 5000 years of shared history, but 60 years of separation has taken a heavy toll.

    by: Christoffer Kjeldgaard from: Danmark
    February 26, 2014 6:35 AM
    It is essential for the stability og the region, that Korea is reunited. However, when Kim Jung Un is probably the best leder North Korea ever had, it is unlikely that he would reunificate without being forced by the public. Without civil war, the world and especially China will not intervene. As long as China supports Kim Jung Un, the starving public will have no means to recieve supplies to start or endure civil war.

    South Korea has also always been anxious Howards Norths military power. Demilitarization of the North is just as unlikely as a reunification.

    by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
    February 26, 2014 2:43 AM
    Contrary to President Park Geun-hye's goal of reunification, here in Somalia all leaders are in process to complete the strategic plan to split this very small country into eight independent sovereign republics. It seems that no one understands that the best interest for this country is to remain intact. We urgently need ten people like Park Geun-hye who help us to remain UNITED.

    by: Volcifer from: unknown
    February 25, 2014 10:04 PM
    East germany was only controlled by communists while N. Korea is communist. This reunification cant work unless kim jung gives up his power and his military to the south

    by: Agnes Maria
    February 25, 2014 9:51 PM
    "The drills began as scheduled, though South Korea's Defense Ministry Tuesday said a North Korean ship crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL) separating the two Koreas."

    Then get rid of the line.

    by: John
    February 25, 2014 8:54 PM
    The truth is most South Koreans don't really want unification if it means they have to financially support the North. Many people in South Korea are just getting by as it is. The violent crime rate is low in the south also. I can imagine that will increase dramatically if poor uneducated Northerners; whom are probably desensitized by the violence in the North migrate down South. The biggest losers of reunification will the average South Korean.
    Comments page of 3
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.