Korea Reunification Would Spell Trouble For Seoul
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on January 4, 2012
SEOUL, South Korea — A single, reunified Korea has long been a cherished dream of people on both sides of the world’s most heavily fortified border. South Korea even has a Cabinet-level ministry preparing for the day.
And while Kim Jong Il’s death last month has raised those hopes higher among some in Seoul, few are eager to talk about the cold reality: Sudden reunification could be traumatic for both countries.
Any North Korean collapse and hurried reunification, analysts say, could spell the end of Pyongyang’s ruling class while flooding Seoul with refugees and causing huge financial burdens – perhaps trillions of dollars – for South Koreans who have only recently gotten used to their country’s emergence as a rising Asian power.
Korea observers aren’t predicting such a collapse or the kind of “big bang” reunification that happened in Germany, which saw the overnight fall of the communist side and its swift absorption into its Western neighbor. The new North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il’s son Kim Jong Un, is fast consolidating power, winning key backing from the government and military.
Still, the extraordinary changes in North Korea following the Dec. 17 death of the man whose iron rule lasted 17 years have stirred up dreams of a single Korea among some in the South. And not just in those with memories of life before the country was divided into U.S.- and Soviet-occupied zones in 1945.