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Why should we be united?

July 10,2018
Kim Dong-ha, Student at Seoul Science High School

Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, our schools have been teaching students that the two Koreas should reunite. But the benefits of reunification are overestimated, and unification is unlikely to resolve the current economic, political and social problems of South Korea. Rather, there is a greater likelihood that we will have more problems than expected.

First, there are economic problems. If the two countries are unified, we must pour an immense amount of money into North Korea. Before reunification, West Germany had a GDP of $15,000 and East Germany a GDP of $9,000, but still boasted the largest economy among communist countries. In fact, the gap was not as big as ours. Nevertheless, after the unification of these two countries, the German economy became stagnant. As of 2015 — the 25th year into unification — the economy of former East Germany was only 75 percent of former West Germany. The difference between the two Koreas is even bigger than that, as seen in their per capita income of $30,000 versus $700. South Korea can hardly bridge the gap in the next few decades.

Also, we could hardly overcome their deep-seated cultural and ideological differences. Some say reunification will have a good effect on the culture, but ending the war and becoming a separate country is even better. Like other countries in Europe, we basically have the same heritage and can co-exist without war as long as we can strike a peace treaty.

South and North Korea should not be reunited. Why do we have to choose the hard way based on an antiquated thought that we should reunify? Reunification is a gamble for us. The South and North’s economies are too different and their cultural gaps too wide to be narrowed.