Monday, August 16, 2010

Lee lays out master plan for Korean reunification

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in a speech on Sunday proposed a three-staged method of reunification with North Korea and the introduction of a "unification tax" to prepare for the massive cost.

"Today, inter-Korean relations demand a new paradigm," Lee said. "The two of us need to overcome the current state of division and proceed with the goal of peaceful reunification." The comments mark a shift from policies aimed at maintaining stability to active steps toward reunification.
The three-stage plan would start with a "peace community" that assures security on the peninsula including a denuclearized North, followed by the creation of an "economic community" developing the North's economy through exchanges, and eventually full reunification.
There have been two broad theories of reunification. One is the so-called Sunshine Policy of gradual reunification proposed by former President Kim Dae-jung and favored by progressives, favoring reunification further down the road after the two Koreas narrow their economic differences and acclimatize to each other's societies.

Conservatives say such an approach would only prolong North Korea's autocratic regime and warn that the South must prepare for a sudden regime collapse in the North. Some even say South Korea should pressure North Korea in order to trigger regime collapse.

Lee's speech is expected to lead to a major debate in South Korea over how to deal with the North.
[Chosun Ilbo]

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