Being preparedThe corporate sector is bracing for the reunification of South and North Korea on a civilian level. The Federation of Korean Industries yesterday held the first meeting of a committee for a unified economy, which is chaired by Son Kil-seung, honorary chairman of the business lobbying group, and includes CEOs of major companies. The committee plans to offer the business sector’s recommendations to the government, including a draft of a master plan to develop the impoverished North Korean economy. The committee also aims to draw support and cooperation from the international community on a North Korean equivalent of perestroika by capitalizing on its member companies’ far-reaching networks.
We take special note of the fact that the FKI is proactively preparing for unification at a time when inter-Korean ties are nearly frozen. The government also held its first meeting of the Committee for Unification Preparation earlier this month headed by President Park Geun-hye to prepare for the post-unification era since the president came up with the “unification as a bonanza” proposal. But the rupture in dialogue between the two Koreas has not shown even the faintest sign of repair. One of the most effective means to break the deadlock can be found in economic exchanges between Seoul and Pyongyang on a civilian level. No doubt North Korea can gain the most tangible benefits - economic development - through such cooperation in a long journey toward reunification. Inter-Korean cooperation on economic issues is certainly the most solid stepping-stone for reunification. In this regard, such bold efforts by business leaders - the heroes of the Miracle on the Han - to promote economic development and industrialization of the isolated country carry a great significance.
In fact, the FKI has been conducting research and providing humanitarian aid to the North since it established a committee for inter-Korean economic cooperation in 1997. But all of that suddenly stopped after bilateral relations turned icy with the re-election in 2004 of George W. Bush, an ultra-hardliner on the Communist regime.
The FKI’s standing committee for a unified economy has been re-established since its economic cooperation with the North came to a halt nearly a decade ago. If the reunification is to be a “jackpot” for the peninsula, it must be accompanied by thorough preparations and scrupulous implementation. Germany experienced much difficulty in managing a post-unification economy due to a lack of information on East Germany and preparations for a unified economy. We hope the relaunch of the FKI’s committee helps reduce hardships down the road.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 22, Page 30