2 years ago
Goyo
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Koreas Divided by Pride
"North and South Korea should meet face to face to draw up a plan for a peaceful unification” South Korea is one of the most impressive countries I have ever visited. A country ravaged by war only 60 years ago has become one of the top 15 economies in the world, all while still being technically “at war” with its northern brethren. While the South Koreans have enjoyed economic and cultural success (Korean entertainment has become the dominant Asian entertainment), North Korea has remained one of the poorest countries in the world. To truly grasp the poor living conditions faced by North Koreans, I have gathered the following stats: Annual GDP per capita: $1,800 => this is 28 times lower than the US, and 18 times lower than South Korea 50%~ of North Koreans live in extreme poverty => This means that they earn less than $1.25 per day (as defined by the UN in 2005) 1/3 of population have stunted their growth due to malnutrition While it is incredible to think of how different their paths have been, it is even more incredible to think that South Korea is the one side that is ambitiously looking towards a unified Korea. The reason that is so incredible is because if and when there is a unified Korea, the immense financial burden will fall almost squarely upon the shoulders of South Korea. It is just not realistic to think that North Korea will really bring much resource to the table given its current state. So why then is North Korea resisting a seemingly incredible offer? Their are various answers, but to me it might really all just boil down to pride. North Korean leaders are just too proud to accept the fact that the war has ended, and they have lost. Wars these days are rarely won through military might (North Korea’s only area of strength). They are now won through financial might. In this regard, North Korea has unilaterally lost. The sad fact is, though, that North Korean leaders may feel like they are in too deep, and do not really have the option of going back unless they can save face. This is why in so many of these talks, we often hear of incredible demands put forth by North Korea, when in reality they really have no leverage to make such demands. It is sad though that families are continued to be separated, that a nation is continued to be split, and that peace is continued to be stalled all because of pride. There may be those who believe that there are more complex reasons (and there are), but the reality is that those reasons could be fixed once pride is removed. Will that pride ever be removed though? My South Korean friends say that it will probably not happen in our lifetime...
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