Saturday, March 21, 2015

Reevaluating Reunification

Prior to our trip to South Korea, the topic of reunification was mentioned, but not emphasized. When we arrived in Seoul, that's all everything related back to. The National Assembly had a second chamber that currently stands empty with the idea that it will become the nation's Senate Chamber once South Korea reunifies with the north. North Korea supports South Korea in their "land" dispute with Japan because they firmly believe that in the future they will reunify (read: invade) with their neighbors and the islands will become theirs. South Korea is so convinced that they will reunify with North Korea that they built the Dorasan Train Station in the DMZ. This station is the last station on the South Korean side of the DMZ and was made with the intentions of connecting South Korea to North Korea. Initially I was shocked they had a Ministry of Reunification.

Honestly, I though South Korea was crazy and disillusioned. In my head I started referring to South Korea as Idealist Korea or Fantasist Korea. With just the base knowledge that I had, I wrote off reunification as a show piece for tourists or sweet nothtings the government was comforting separated families with. Reunification has been so deeply ingrained in to the minds of many South Koreans that they have started publishing maps that depict a unified Korea, Seoul as the capital, and no special status for Pyongyang.

 Here's an example:

Is it possible? Actually, there seems to be a silver lining. With a lot of planning and a lot of outside help, the Koreas stand some chance of reunifying. I do not know how reunification will actually come about, but it appears South Korea is planning for a peaceful reunification and for their government to be the ruling government. From what I've gathered, the government has money on reserve specifically for the day when they reunify with North Korea.

However, I firmly believe that South Korea's idea of reunification is not going to be warmly received by the people of North Korea. Despite the fact that people are fleeing from North Korea in search of a better, safer, happier life, the majority of North Koreans will follow Kim Jong Un and his leadership until the end, as will the military (which is South Korea's biggest obstacles). Even if the government of North Korea were to collapse and South Korea were there to pick up the pieces, there would be some violent resistance because of North Korea's (successful) negative portals of South Korea.

On top of the people's push back, South Korea has the uphill battle of assimilating the North Koreans in to South Korean Society. Just changing from a communist government to a democratic government with an open market is going to be a huge challenge. Teaching them how to function in a market economy, attempting to bring them up to speed with the South Korean economy and technology is going to make their heads spin. This kind of transition also takes time. Another roadblock for reunification is language (surprisingly). According to an article Ashley found, North Korea's Korean and South Korea's Korean have become dialects of one another. South Koreans have started incorporating English words into their everyday language. In North Korea, however, English is forbidden so they have created Korean substitutes for those words.

Many wonderful things could come out of Korea Reunification. While presently I still see it as a fantasy, I see the possibility of it happening in a galaxy far far away.

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