Saturday, December 11, 2010

President Lee: South Korean Reunification Drawing Near

President Lee Myung Bak, on a tour of Southeast Asian nations, has stated that although "North Korea now remains one of the most belligerent nations in the World... it is a fact that the two Koreas will have to coexist peacefully and in the end realize reunification."  As reported by the Washington Post, and widely in the international press, Lee made the comments on two different occasions.   In a speech on Thursday night, Lee said that North Koreans have become increasingly aware that the South is better off. He did not elaborate on how their knowledge had expanded, but he said it was "an important change that no one can stop."
Although President Lee did not elaborate on how and why North Korean's knowledge of the South is increasing, readers of this blog will know from earlier posts that the information revolution and the availability of ever-smaller and more powerful digital devices (cameras, DVD players, smart phones.....) is at the heart of the matter.
In August, President Lee said South Korea should prepare for reunification by studying the possibility of adopting a reunification tax aimed at raising money for the costs of integration. Lee proposed a three-stage reunification process in which the two Koreas would first form a "peace community" involving denuclearization of the peninsula, then an "economic community" for cross-border economic integration, and eventually a "community of the Korean nation" with no institutional barriers between them.  In a recent interview, the President noted that "ultimately, the foundation for reunification will be laid when North Korea becomes economically independent."

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