2015 marks the 70th year since the Korean peninsula was divided. As President Park mentioned, Korean reunification is one of the biggest historical mission of our generation that can not be put off any longer.
Korea is faced with several structural problems. Korea’s growth rate has been stagnant for more than a decade at 3%, a 3 to 4% decrease since the 1990s. Youth employment fell sharply from 44.9% in 2005 to 39.7% last year. Yet worse, the population is aging rapidly while the number of men and women not contributing to the population growth is increasing.
In such situation, reunification is expected to provide tremendous economic opportunities. Combined 80 million population and investment demand in North Korea’s development will create strong domestic demand. South’s abundant capital and cutting-edge technology integrated with the North’s diligent work force and precious natural resource will greatly strengthen our global competitiveness. Moreover, there won’t be any geopolitical risks posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapon and consequent arms race.
West and East Germany was united suddenly due to East Germany’s unexpected collapse. Even though their economic systems were integrated after going through 1 to 2 years of implementation period, and they have been preparing for the reunification in advance, the gap between the West and East hasn’t yet been fully resolved. Korea, therefore, must be thoroughly prepared for the possible integration of the two economies upon reunification.
In the following series of articles, we’ll look into the reasons why we must be ready in advance and what we can do to minimize negative effects while maximizing synergies upon Korean reunification.