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Facilitating reunification

Posted December. 11, 2010 13:27,   


President Lee Myung-bak said Thursday that South Korea should prepare for reunification of the Korean Peninsula through higher economic prowess, saying, “Unification is approaching.” On why, he said, “(In the past), North Koreans didn’t know what was happening in the outside world because of their society’s closed nature, but now they know how the world is changing.” President Lee also made a comment of great significance last week, saying, “Positive changes are happening in North Korea. What’s noteworthy is that the changes are occurring among North Koreans and not among their leaders.”

In his Liberation Day speech on Aug. 15, President Lee presented a three-phased reunification plan and opened the door to public discussion on the matter by suggesting a reunification tax. The proposal is a welcome development considering neglect on the matter by the previous Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations, and constitutes a change in direction of North Korea policy from management of division to preparation for reunification. Vigorous discussions on reunification are being held within the government led by the Unification Ministry, academia and private organizations.

The North is in crisis due to increasing isolation stemming from its hereditary power transfer and military provocations against the South amid continued economic difficulty. It is difficult to predict whether Pyongyang can overcome the crisis or collapse because the North has held out despite a severe economic downturn that has resulted in starvation of its people. If North Koreans begin demanding a regime change, however, the Kim Jong Il government can no longer hold out. While preparing for peaceful reunification, Seoul should thoroughly brace for contingencies in Pyongyang. As fellow brethren, South Koreans have a responsibility to help the North’s 24 million people lead humane lives in a democratic society.

The South should promote change in the North by continuously sending signals of support and willingness to help. In this sense, psychological warfare against the North Korean government is necessary to let the North Korean people know of the failure and brutality of their regime. Seoul must utilize the more than 20,000 North Korean defectors in the South to let North Koreans know what is happening in the world and awaken them to the evil nature of their communist regime.

At a forum co-hosted by The Dong-A Ilbo’s Hwajung Peace Foundation and the Korean Peninsula Advancement Foundation Tuesday, a proposal was made for a reunification steering committee under a private-public sector partnership. Experts proposed a “two systems, one nation” formula that had been suggested for Hong Kong and Macau in managing North Korea to avoid the excruciating economic pain Germany suffered after reunification. Seoul needs to devise a meticulous and concrete reunification plan. A fully prepared reunification led by the government with firm conviction and plans and supported by the people will be a blessing to all Koreans.