[Letters] The argument for reunification
If you go to New York, you can see a huge billboard advertising Samsung and LG. If you go to China, you can see quite a lot of people driving Hyundai vehicles. Now, South Korea is recognized as one of the most economically strong nations in the international community. North Korea, on the other hand, under the dictatorship of Kim Jong-il, has suffered great economic loss.
The sad, ugly fact is that a lot of citizens in South Korea do not really care about the situation in North Korea. In fact, many think reunification will only benefit North Korea and cause huge economic damage to South Korea. Yet, this is a narrow point of view. Reunification may seem like an enormous economic burden to South Korea, however, in the future, it will have positive economic effects on both sides and contribute to peace on the peninsula.
Although it would cost a lot to raise North Korea’s GDP to South Korea’s level, reunification would vastly reduce defense spending in both countries. Currently, both nations are spending immense amounts of money on national defense expenditures. According to the Korean National Reunification Research Center, South Korea alone spends $220 billion on defense expenditures (4.9 percent of its total GDP) and North Korea spends $54 billion (40 percent of its total GDP). It seems that South Korea is spending relatively less, but if this continues, the total sum of national defense expenditure will be tremendous. Reunification would reduce the total number of troops to a little less than half of the current number and reduce the money spent on the military by more than a third.
Above all, merging both economies into one brings economic benefits since the size of the market expands. Not only is it going to boost demand and supply, North and South Korea can effectively use their resources for production. For instance, South Korea has cutting-edge technology and skilled workers, while North Korea has cheap labor and abundant economic resources. If the two countries become one, production costs will be reduced the overall income will increase.
Another essential benefit of reunification is that it will bring peace to both countries and improve the peninsula’s reputation. North Korea has been developing nuclear weapons for a long period of time, posing a threat to international peace and causing a great stir. Because of this intense situation, South Korea has to impose mandatory military service. With a unified nation, this would be unnecessary. Furthermore, reunification will improve Korea’s reputation as a united nation and give us more influence on international politics.
When Germany reunified, a lot of people thought its economy would collapse. Many thought it would only benefit East Germany. However, Germany has continued to develop and by 2000 it had recorded 3 percent GDP growth. Although South Korea has the burden to economically support North Korea, like Germany South Korea can shoulder this burden and in the long term it will benefit both South and North Korea economically and socially.
In the 1950’s South Korea had nothing because of the war. However, with the help of the international community, extreme effort and a strong will, Korea has become one of the strongest economic powers. If we did this in the past, we can definitely do it again.
Daewon Foreign Language High School