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Korean Reunification : A Long Way To Go

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JoSS, SEMARANG – Reunification between North Korea and South Korea is still far from our hope because the reason why North Korea took the step to engage more to the outside world especially South Korea, Japan, and United States is largely driven by economic agenda.

East Asia Studies expert from Sogang University Seoul, South Korea, Yuwanto, explained that he expectation for Korean reunification to happen like what happened in Germany is something that is still far from what we are expected. “It’s not going to happen soon. The pathway to reunification is still a long and winding journey because the context and reason behind is different to Germany’s case,” said Yuwanto, to JoSS, Saturday (12/5)

According to Yuwanto that is also the Director of Graduate Studies Political Science Faculty at Diponegoro University, North Korea’s main motivation to change their international relations strategy that used to be very closed and stiff to a more open and friendly is the need to improve their domestic economy. North Korea wishes to attract foreign investors to move their economic wheels so that they can catch up with South Korea which has a strong economy.

North Korea actually wants to follow China’s path to become a country with strong industry and economy, also has a critical role in the international trade. Even though they are still upholding their communist ideology, China now is an industrial country with rapid economic growth and also liberalized economy,” he said.

Based on his observation, North Korea is doing a very similar strategy like China, where China put their currency’s value really low so that the goods produced by them are extremely cheap. This is also the strategy that Japan did at the beginning of their path to build their industry in the international market. The pattern is the same, put their currency very low in value, sell their goods outside their country really cheap, if their goods are still not able to compete with other countries’ goods, Japanese government was willing to subsidize the industry.

Another factors that made China’s economic growth is so high – in average above 7% each year are; China’s bravery to embrace G-7 countries so foreign investors easily come in to China, investment by the government in Small Medium Enterprise (SME) and private local businesses that they called as Township and Village Enterprises (TVEs) enables China to strengthen its export.

China’s steps, according to Yuwanto, will be followed by North Korea. Especially, Kim Jong Un is very close to China’s President, Xi Jinping, that situation provides supports to North Korea from China as their ally.

“Just wait and see, nowadays, in North Korea, they are starting to produce Coca-Cola, fast food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald, and also Pizza Hut. That is a very important indicator that Pyongyang (North Korea’s capital city) is opening up to foreign investments and products,” said this father of three children.

Based on that basis, he predicts that reunification between North Korea and South Korea is still far from imagined, even you can say that reunification is not Pyongyang’s end goal. North Korea’s openness and steps to repair their international relation is Kim Jong Un’s way to make his country as a country that is well respected by the world, not just from the military aspect, but also from its economy. (kristi/awo)

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