Forget the ‘If’ and Start Talking Numbers

by John Hood

Apparently, the question of whether North and South Korea will be reunified has been settled. It’s a yes. According to South Korean officials, the real issue is how to finance the anticipated cost of integrating the pathetic Communist North into the thriving capitalist South. They already have a “Unification Ministry” working on it:

South Korea said Wednesday it has held a series of seminars and other meetings for students, business people, religious leaders and civic officials to raise public awareness about potential unification with North Korea.

The campaign, which drew some 37,000 people over the past several months, came as South Korea is working on a plan on how to finance the potential unification, according to the Unification Ministry.

The ministry, which is in charge of inter-Korean affairs, also launched an Internet broadcast service last weekend in the latest attempt to enhance public interest in unifying the two divided Koreas. Seoul has been working on details of a so-called unification tax since last year when President Lee Myung-bak floated the idea of using taxpayer money to cushion the cost of unification.

This scenario still assumes that Korean reunification is decades off, however. If you asked a West German in 1988 when his country might be reunified, you might well have heard a similar expectation. I know the two situations are different. Still, I’ve got to think (hope?) that East Asia and the world will not have to settle for another 20 years of tensions along the DMZ.