Jordan Lee Beverly Hills HS 11th Grade
The recent discussions between North and South Korea are, undoubtedly, some of the most significant meetings of the modern era. If successful, the summit could officially end the long forgotten Korean War. This clash between North and South Korea has been decades long and has shown little signs of improvement. Recently, both parties agreed upon a conference to discuss the state of their division as well as their possible reconciliation. However, it is difficult to believe that these two discrete relatives could reconcile their differences due to their radically opposing views on politics and economics. How could one nation and its antithesis come to a peaceful agreement? Understanding the history of the Korean Peninsula is essential to comprehend why a peaceful relationship between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea is seemingly impossible.
In an attempt to mend their relationship, North and South Korea met in 1992 with the Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-Aggression, and Exchanges and Cooperation between South and North Korea. They met again in 2007 with the “peace declaration”. These previously failed attempts at reconciliation were a result of their differences of political opinions. This reveals that it is neither simple nor immediate for the two nations to set aside their differences. As a result, the meeting on April 27, 2018 to discuss denuclearization and reconciliation seemed unpromising. After hours of discussion and introduction of their respective cultures, both parties had seemed hopeful for what the future had to offer. Foreign nations were filled with anxiety as the results of these discussions were largely unknown.While the South employs a democratic republic, one in which the citizens elect their representatives and president, the North has maintained a dictatorial dynasty since its post-Korean War formation. How can reconciliation lead to the reunification of these distinct nations? Their radically different views on foreign and domestic policies makes this a near-impossible objective. It is difficult to work with one’s enemy and even more so when both parties want to drive the other out of existence. Due to the North’s long mission to reunify the Korean Peninsula under the Kim Dynasty’s control, reconciliation would be near impossible without the abandonment of that mission.
During the peace talks, both Koreas are also taking into consideration the economic effects of reunification. Many analysts question how the wealth of South Korea would transfer to North Korea. Would North Korea reap the fruits of South Korea’s labor? North Korea is in a state of poverty in comparison to the rest of the world. With a GDP of 12.38 billion USD, North Korea has a mere 0.88% of the GDP of South Korea. This means that South Korea will have to aid its poverty stricken Northern counterpart out of the hole it dug itself. This will leave many implications on the condition of the relationship between the two nations. The almost parasitic DPRK will utilize South Korea to build itself up and deplete the South of its wealth. For example, North Korea uses Cold War era machines and vehicles while South Korea has the luxury of modern technology. Economically, the South produces exports such as food, media, cars, and so much more, while the North accepts imports of food donations from foreign nations. The North is barely surviving, and there does not seem to be a viable future for a positive relationship between the two nations. The fact that a majority of the North Korean population lives in stark conditions says that reunification is not plausible. The South would have to sacrifice trillions of dollars to rebuild infrastructure and other essentials and would most likely suffer a possibility of inflation on all consumer products.
Despite hopes of reunification, the realistic possibility is slim to none. Due to the long history of numerous failed attempts and economic differences, the likelihood of a sustainable relationship is nearly impossible. The North’s views on the rest of the world is also a factor, especially concerning the United States as a major ally to South Korea. With so much military support from the US, South Korea is well prepared to defend itself; however, the North Koreans may be hesitant to comply and become aggressive once again as they have been in the past. There is no certainty as to what the results of these “peace” talks will bring, especially when they are littered with secret agendas amongst other factors. The two entities must compromise and sacrifice if they want to realize their fantastical dream. A unified Korea would be a sight to see; however, the two nations must consider all the possible consequences they may encounter as a result of reunification.
<Jordan Lee Beverly Hills HS 11th Grade