These days, summits between South Korea, North Korea, and US are actively being held, and inter-Korean relations are gradually being eased and a more peaceful atmosphere is being created. As a result, discussions on unification are becoming more active and the possibility of a peaceful reunification is increasing. However, unlike the past, people have lukewarm responses to the idea or possibility of unification.
According to a survey, 35% of teenagers agreed in 1992 on the topic ‘Unification must be done,’ but only 15% agreed in 2015. On the contrary, the proportion of adolescents who agreed to ‘unification is not necessary’ increased from 26% in 1992 to 42% in 2015. Additionally, the proportion of adolescents who agreed to “the possibility of unification is small” doubled from 19% to 38%. Not only teenagers but also other people are not positive about unification. Why are people’s responses so unenthusiastic or half-hearted? I think it is because they do not agree with the necessity of unification. According to one survey, the answer to the question “Do you agree with the necessity of unification?” decreased from 56% in 2018 to 41% in 2019. On the other hand, the number of respondents who said they do not agree increased from 18% to 28%.
What does it mean to say that we cannot sympathize with the need for unification? I think people cannot sympathize because they cannot find common ground with North Korea. For example, from the 1950s to the 1970s, after the end of the Korean War, most of the younger generation experienced direct war or were part of separated families, and their children thought that North Korea and South Korea are all Korean people with no difference. However, now, heterogeneity with North Korea becomes bigger, and people can easily access politics, and South Korea is experiencing armed provocations and knows the difference in economic power, so they do not feel the need for unification.
I don’t think that will help us, and I’ll explain why I’m in favor of unification in terms of the economy I mentioned above. If South Korea is unified with North Korea, the unified Korea would have the fourth largest economic power in the world after the United States, China and Japan, scholars say. In other words, if Korea is unified, South Korea’s technology and North Korea’s resources can be combined to have a much higher economic power than now. Some people claim that because unification costs are huge, they are opposed to unification. However, if unification is not done, the cost of division such as defense expenses will continue. Unification costs are temporary costs, but the division costs are continuously generated while being divided, so unification costs are lower than division costs.
There are many good things about unification in terms of economy as well as society, and as we all know, Korea is an export-led country, so we export almost all our goods. When exporting, South Korea use ships or airlines, but if we unify, Korea can begin exporting to Europe through railways, which will be much cheaper and faster. Also, if it becomes possible to travel to Europe by rail, the number of travelers from Europe and Asia to Korea will increase.
In addition, if the Koreas are unified, there are many advantages such as allowing neighboring countries to escape the threat of war. Therefore, I argue that Korea should be unified because of these advantages.