“Discussions around the unification of
North and South Korea have intensified over the last month,”
said Hyun Jin Moon.
Moon is a social entrepreneur respected
for his moral and innovative leadership, his spiritual
his philosophy of one family under God. Hyun Jin Moon’s vision
is for global peace and in 2009 he founded the Global Peace
South Korean President Park Geun-hye,
included remarks in her New Year press conference, not only
about her desire for a reunification, but also the anticipated
benefits that it would offer.
Korea was divided at the end of World War
II in 1948 at the 38th Parallel with the two nations having
utterly opposed political, economic, and social systems. North
Korea was established as a communist state and South Korea a
The Korean War began with North Korea
launching a surprise invasion of South Korea in 1950. This
effectively ended hopes of a peaceful reunification of the two
nations. There was no real resolution to the dispute, and it
effectively ended with a stalemate when North Korea was pushed
back to the 38th Parallel. No peace treaty was ever signed.
Subsequent relations between the two nations have been
With two diametrically different systems,
it may be hard to envision a path to reunification. The reunification
of East and West Germany in 1990, after 28 years of
separation, was primarily instigated by East German citizens
who felt drastic change was needed.
Historically, the reunification of East
and West Germany has been the example cited for why
reunification of North and South Korea would not be
beneficial. Following the unification, German central bank set
the exchange rate at 1:1 which created havoc when East German
workers migrated to West Germany with hopes of finding work
offering higher wages.
The 1:1 exchange rate caused hesitation
on the part of West German firms to invest in East Germany.
Overall, the reunification costs proved to be considerable and
the effects are still felt today.
“Pundits and economists alike have tended
to focus on negative economic arguments, seeing unification as
a burden. But there are significant economic benefits that
unification would bring and these need more attention,” said
Hyun Jin Moon.
A 2009 study by
Goldman Sachs questions
pessimistic economic arguments against Korean unification. The
study suggests that using Germany as a benchmark for
reunification, may be presenting an inaccurate picture of the
potential for successful Korean unification.
Looking to Eastern Europe, Mongolia and
Vietnam demonstrate that there are better ways to make the
reunification process a success.
The unification of member states into the
European Union created a unique political and economic
community throughout Europe. The Treaty of Maastricht outlined
goals to unify Europe beyond economics. The major goals were
efficiency improvements, strengthening of democratic
governance, and the establishment of a security policy.
The creation of a single European
currency, the Euro, helped to establish fiscal unification and
economic stability. The European Union allows participating
countries to enjoy easier trade, greater citizen interaction
on a variety of issues including the environment, and security
and vastly simplified travel throughout the 28 member
Based on the success of other nations
following reunification, the Goldman Sachs study now indicates
that a re-evaluation of the potential benefits of a Korean
Reunification is warranted.
Previous studies uncovered a lack of
interest in unification, this new study provides reason for
optimism. “Previous belief that a Korean Reunification would
be too costly has been replaced with a greater understanding
of the potential benefits to both nations,” said Hyun Jin
North Korea possesses vast mineral
deposits and a population both younger and growing twice as
fast as South Korea. North Korean exports shipped to China
included $291.1 million of iron ore and $1.37 billion worth of
anthracite. Trade volume between North Korea and its major
trading partner China reached a record
US$6.45 billion in 2013, up 10.4 percent from a year
earlier. The potential for growth in North Korea is huge which
could help offset the costs involved with reunification.
South Korea brings to the table an
impressive technology and economic portfolio. This includes
Samsung Electronics, which is exporting increasingly
high-quality products. Smartphone penetration in South Korea
boasts a 97.7% level among 18 to 24 year olds, with many South
Koreans using their smartphones to pay for products at stores,
watch mainstream TV shows (not just YouTube) and scan QR codes
at South Korea’s world’s first virtual store. Thanks to this
strong focus on technology successes, South Korea is more
resilient than ever in coping with currency swings, aiding in
the stability of the economy.
Following a decade of concerted efforts
by South Korea to improve economic links with North Korea, the
South has become North Korea’s largest export market. North
Korea has also implemented a number of conciliatory measures
to improve relations with their neighbor to the south, though
the signals sent from Pyongyang are often contradictory. As
South and North Korea continue to edge forward with
inter-Korean economic cooperation, the possibility of a
politically, economically, and socially successful
The Goldman Sachs study conducted in 2009
predicts that a unified Korea by 2050 would boast the 8th
highest GDP in the world.
“This is a dramatic statistic that shows
Korea has the potential to become a significant presence on
the world stage. The scope of economic opportunity is vast.
This is why GPF is promoting a mindset change, toward
unification and work to engage ordinary Korean citizens, in
the process. Unification would open up trade between nations,
tap the labor pool and mineral resources of the North, and
remove a major barrier to travel, and development in East
Asia,” Hyun Jin Moon said.