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Presidential panel should attain practical gains for ‘unification bonanza’

Presidential panel should attain practical gains for ‘unification bonanza’

Posted July. 16, 2014 07:48,   


The presidential preparatory committee for national reunification comprised of 50 members was officially inaugurated on Tuesday. The committee is led by President Park Geun-hye as chair, and Chung Chong-wook, emeritus professor at Incheon National University and former Korean Ambassador to China, as vice chair for the private sector and Unification Minister Ryu Gil-jae as vice chair for the government. As the committee is represented by leaders from both conservative and progressive sides, it will likely be able to hold open discussions, overcoming political factions and ideologies. In order for reunification that will come someday in the future to become a blessing rather than a disaster, South Korea needs thorough preparation, and hence it is desirable that the government and the private sector start discussing related issues together.

The preparatory committee is expected to play a role to provide practical backup for the Korean Peninsula trust-building process and the Dresden Plan as proclaimed by President Park. It can contribute to laying the foundation for reunification by building up trust through expansion of inter-Korean exchange and cooperation, and providing humanitarian assistance to and construction of infrastructure in the North, while sternly dealing with North Korea’s threats. In order for South Korea to become unified with the North, which runs a different political system, the process to gather diverse opinions within the South is important. For the committee not to follow suit of past committees that appeared and disappeared without leaving any outcome, it would be important for the new committee to produce achievements that the next administration can inherit.

Early this year, President Park trumpeted “unification bonanza,” but stopped short of mentioning the costs and challenging process required for unification. The two Koreas have had diverse channels of dialogue and contacts, including two summit meetings, over the 69 years of divided Koreas, but inter-Korean relations have not made fundamental progress, because practical barriers to unification are so sturdy and high. Unification that the South should pursue is one that the two Koreas both will enjoy freedom and prosperity of the Republic of Korea (South Korea).

If the two Koreas are unified, the situation of North Koreans’ life and human rights will improve to the level of South Koreans. A unification that damages constitutional values of the South, including freedom, democracy and market economy, is no better than the status quo of the two Koreas. If the South and the North become one, the rogue state of North Korea will disappear from the earth, and a unified Korea will contribute to peace of Northeast Asia and the world as a nation of peace that follows the international norms.

The ongoing reshuffle of order in Northeast Asia, which was maintained since the Second World War, could provide us with an opportunity. South Korea should set up well-thought out strategy and thus continue to create an environment conducive for reunification by persuading the North and neighboring countries. The Dong-A Ilbo presented to readers with the “Unified Korea project’ under the slogan, “We should prepare to be unified,” through its announcement commemorating the 93rd anniversary of the daily’s establishment in April last year. Next year marks the 70th anniversary of separation of the two Koreas. It is hoped that the reunification preparation committee will renew its commitment to lay the foundation to achieve the grand agenda of the Korean people: unification of the two Koreas.