Why Phased Reunification Is Impossible

first_imgAnalysis & Opinion Why Phased Reunification Is Impossible By Daily NK – 2012.05.25 11:20am Pence Cartoon: “KOR-US Karaoke” Analysis & Opinion Analysis & Opinion Analysis & Opinion RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHORcenter_img Facebook Twitter At some point, the North Korean people are going to see South Korea as the absolute benchmark for its standard of living, given that it is a country inhabited by fellow Koreans and which it may eventually unify with under one flag. If North Korea does not begin to see the same standard of living as is enjoyed in the South, people will quickly begin to regard themselves as poor. Accordingly, if the regime cannot deliver progress which suggests a quick upswing toward such standards of living, it may take just as little time for that public displeasure to turn its attention on the regime itself.The majority of North Korean citizens will always see the Kim Jong Eun system as a descendant of the Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il reigns, times which presided over economic collapse, food shortages, political crimes and human rights abuses, so even if the current government were to strike a compromise with South Korea, the public would demand accountability for the actions of previous rulers. Preparations for gradual unification would necessitate a spike in inter-Korean exchanges and contacts, however the prospect of bearing responsibility for the legacy it has been left with is a serious threat for the current regime to consider, and one that no doubt plays on its mind a fair bit.On the other hand, if the regime were to simply pursue exchanges with the South while continuing its Orwellian policy of state surveillance then it might be somewhat easier to maintain its authority. That level of supervision would be impossible to carry out on the same scale employed by Kim Jong Il though, considering the number of skilled workers and businesspeople who would be routinely visiting North Korea for work, and evidence of government corruption and human rights abuses would be exposed for the world to see on a much grander scale than they are now.Many people are aware of the reality in North Korea and are under no misconceptions about the character of the regime. It is worth remembering though that many others have never seen the videos, leaked official documents and other materials which prove the human rights abuses of the Kim Dynasty, and that others still sympathize with the regime under some mistaken belief that the human rights situation has been exaggerated.With that in mind, increasing the level of exchanges between North and South Korea would provide a platform by which to uncover documentary evidence about the regime’s activities which would be impossible to cast doubt over. We already know that people who are accused of damaging portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are severely punished. However, if for example the real names of people who had been punished for such offenses (up to 10 years in some cases) or official documents concerning their cases were made public to the outside world, the effects of this would be enormous. It would be difficult for both sides of politics to ignore in South Korea, conservatives and left-wingers alike; the latter of which, it should be said, have a tendency to overlook the faults of the regime.In the end, the more North Korea opens itself up to exchange with South Korea, the more it is going to face pressure from the South to improve its human rights situation. If the North Korean elite yielded to that pressure and eased the policy of suppression it would become harder to maintain internal stability and order. Like it or not, therefore, South Korea’s amazing tale of economic growth and democratic progress is a perceived threat to North Korea, and with that being the case, economic aid from South Korea can be no fix-all; long-term survival for the regime is only possible by continuing a policy of national isolation, controlling information and the politics of terror.Those who have ultimate authority over the direction of policy in North Korea are well aware of the above facts. The way they see it, holding summit talks aimed at phased unification would be mass political suicide, so while the idea of unification through gradual talks looks an attractive proposition on the surface, it is nothing more than an impractical illusion. The only scenario that can truly bring about unification is change from within North Korea.I feel I should point out that I am in favor of the individuals and groups who work tirelessly to facilitate inter-Korean exchanges and contacts in the hope that one day unification will become a possibility. The efforts of such people go a long way in spreading knowledge about life outside North Korea, and give a chance for the nation’s people, including low- and mid-level bureaucrats, to see South Korea as it truly is. Irrespective of any subjective motivation, those efforts do weaken the authority of the North Korean dictatorship and help increase the influence of the only people who can truly bring about the change required for Korean unification. Tracking the “unidentified yellow substance” being dried out near the Yongbyon Nuclear Center Is Nuclear Peace with North Korea Possible? SHARE AvatarDaily NKQuestions or comments about this article? 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