DP chairman calls for a reunification committee

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DP chairman calls for a reunification committee

Kim Han-gill, chairman of the Democratic Party, yesterday proposed a preparatory committee for reunification, emphasizing that the two Koreas should reunite through peaceful progress.

“Our wish is reunification,” the main opposition party leader said in a speech, which launched this month’s extra parliamentary session at the National Assembly. “However, the process toward reunification is even more important.”

He added that he “welcomed President Park Geun-hye’s remarks” in her New Year’s address, in which she stated that “reunification is [the jackpot] - an appeal to the younger generation on the importance of [the issue].”

In a Jan. 6 press conference, the president outlined a blueprint for the reunification of the two Koreas and stated that reunification is daebak, or a jackpot. Park said in her speech that she believes reunification would be a chance for the economy to make a huge leap. She also appealed for North Korea to “get off on the right foot for inter-Korean relations.”

However, Kim did express some trepidation. He said he “cannot help but express concern … Stating ‘reunification is a jackpot’ may create an overly rosy vision,” which may appear to indicate that reunification would occur right away. The Democratic chairman added that using such an expression “without efforts toward consistent cooperation for reconciliation and a reform in relations could be easily mistaken as approaching the situation [too abruptly].”

Kim further affirmed that the DP is opposed to unification through absorption - a scenario in which the South would swallow a collapsed North - stating that the burden of the cost would be too high for society to bear and possibly cause immeasurable chaos.

But the process toward reunification is important, he said, and the “DP seeks a peacefully progressing unification through a policy of engagement toward North Korea based on stable security and peace.”

Kim further called for a reunification preparatory committee that would be made up of government officials from both the ruling and opposition parties, as well as civilian organizations. He stated that a consistent bipartisan policy on unification regardless of a change in administration is desirable.

The DP leader last month said in his New Year’s address that while sticking to the broad principle of late President Kim Dae-jung’s Sunshine Policy, the party needed to “upgrade its North Korea policy to reflect the current situation and the changes public perception.”

Meanwhile, Rhee In-je, a senior Saenuri Party representative who heads the Group Promoting Unification of the Divided Koreas, emphasized yesterday at a Supreme Council meeting that “the Saenuri Party must support President Park Geun-hye’s reunification plans.”

Saenuri Party lawmaker Chung Mong-joon added, “We have to establish a ‘one-Korea policy’ where we convey to North Korea that the way for it to survive is through reconciliation and exchange.”

BY PARK SUNG-WOO, SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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