By Jay Kim
Nobody knows how things will change in Korea in the next decade. Because of the uncertainty about tomorrow, let alone what will happen in a decade, people seek and pay famous fortunetellers a large amount of money and try to peek into the future.
Just like Korea, there are many fortunetellers in the U.S., but almost none of them make correct predictions. For example, they failed to predict the sudden death of Kim Jong-il.
The Millennium Project has released a report called “State of the Future,” which is also a kind of fortune-telling. Even though it is supposedly the result of a study that involved 2,500 futurists, scholars and businessmen from 50 countries, using computers to make a stochastic, scientific model of trends, there is no guarantee of its accuracy. However, many still consider the report to be credible.
First, about the unification of two Koreas, it predicts that Kim Jong-un’s inheritance of power will fail in North Korea and thousands of North Korean refugees will come to South Korea daily over the border, which will collapse in three years and create a crisis in the South, which is unprepared for such a flood of refugees.
South Korea will have to raise taxes to cover the cost to take care of millions of North Korean refugees, but there will be riots in the refugee camps due to the lack of welfare and facilities. These may foster hatred between the brethren of the South and the North.
The report predicts that unification will occur in 2020. It will require a co-election in the South and the North, but there will be frictions that arise from issues on the rights of refugees from the North and the left of the South that sympathizes with them, which may cause another crisis.
Second, the report predicts that a full-scale, continuous reduction of population will occur in the next decade, causing a serious social problem. As the days when both members of a married couple have to work to make a living are approaching, the cost of raising a child will be almost the same as the amount of one member’s income.
So, in many cases, people will give up having a child simply because they cannot afford it, as a change of people’s thinking, preferring not having a child to living under financial pressure, will also contribute to a low birthrate.
The decrease in population will shrink economic growth as real estate prices will go down, and the production of daily necessities and the construction of education facilities and infrastructures will decrease, which will lead to the reduction of the domestic consumer population.
So, the manufacturing industry will leave South Korea for overseas locations, looking for a new market. For this reason, the cheap labor of North Korea should be used. Fortunately, a free trade agreement (FTA) between South Korea and China may bring some life into the manufacturing industry by building several additional industrial complexes in the North.
The current birthrate of South Korea, 1.2, is among the lowest in the world, along with Japan’s and Germany’s. Furthermore, the population of South Korea will be reduced by six million, or 15 percent, after 10 years, while the number of immigrants will increase from the current 1 million to 4 million.
Thirdly, the report predicts that males will rapidly become more feminine and females will become more masculine in the next 10 years. Males will gradually look feminine and females will like such males. As traditional jobs for males will go to females, males will come to enjoy cooking and child-raising.
I will never regard the unification as a crisis on the Korean Peninsula. I am confident that we South Koreans will make a successful unified country by helping North Korean refugees no matter what, even if every South Korean has to skip a meal a day. In this regard, those who made the report do not know the tenacious character of the Korean people yet.
Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the KimChangJoon US-Korea Foundation. For more information, visit Kim’s website (www.jayckim.com). The views expressed in the above article are the author’s own and do not reflect the editorial policy of The Korea Times.