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

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora