Twenty years ago today the Berlin Wall fell, signifying the reunification of a separated Germany. Twenty years from today it is entirely possible that Korea will still be divided by almost 3 miles of Korean soil, soldiers, fences and farmland. A fact of Korean life for 60 years now.
Cho Ju Hee, with ABC News, wrote an interesting article today discussing Korean’s feelings on the subject. Many Koreans on both sides desire reunification, but politically neither Korea is prepared to compromise fully with the other. It would also be financially draining on South Korea to absorb North Korea’s people and offer them the “South Korean-standard minimum social welfare.”
But as Cho says in her article, young Koreans want to see their country reunited. Both see reunifying as a way of helping their separated brothers and sisters. Even North Koreans, with a national income 17 times less than the South, see reunification as a way of rescuing South Korea.
Our elementary students never hesitated to weigh in on the issue when I asked. Most wanted a unified Korea, but some made the economic argument, stressing the financial drain on the country. In our time in Gwangju our students put on a play about reunification and did a major art project with reunification as its main theme.
I think that if Korea reunited they would quickly become a powerful nation. Koreans are far to prideful and motivated to watch their country become anything less than the best. The question is more when can the Korea’s come to agreeable terms?