Reunification is getting closer

The reunification of the two Koreas is no longer a goal that we can only dream about, but is becoming closer and closer to reality. The reason for this is that China and Russia, the traditional allies of North Korea, have been showing signs of turning their backs on the North.

China, a country that holds the key to the survival of North Korea, stopped its oil exports to the North last month over the course of a few days. Though one cannot be sure if China will continue to do so, it is well-known that China actively agreed to the resolution issued early this month by the U.N. Security Council to sanction North Korea. Before China, Russia has already taken a critical stance on the nuclear tests and other provocations of North Korea. In addition to this, the U.S. House may block cash flows from other countries to North Korea, through blocking Banco Delta Asia, in order to paralyze its finances. Thus, it is no exaggeration that the whole world is turning its back on the country.

One reason is that North Korea has been obsessed with the expansion of its nuclear weapons program while its people are starving to death. But the bigger reason is North Korea’s severe oppression of its people and its violation of their human rights. The international community had a certain degree of hope for Kim Jong-un, a new leader in his 20s with a foreign education. But this hope quickly evaporated, and now the international community is disgusted with a series of threats from Kim and his leadership that are even worse than any of his father’s actions. Meanwhile, in the U.S., some are beginning to claim that reunification on the Korean Peninsula is the fastest way to get rid of the nuclear threats from North Korea.

In the last South Korean presidential election, the voter turnout was 75.8 percent of eligible voters, which left the American voter turnout of just over 60 percent of eligible voters in the shade. Furthermore, the voting process was an orderly, democratic process without any incidents or errors. It also deserves to be noticed that South Korea elected a female president before either Japan or the U.S. did. In the international community, the overwhelming opinion is that putting North Korea in the hands of South Korea is the only way to save North Koreans from starving to death. This means reunification.

George Friedman, an American military political expert, expects there will be reunification on the Korean Peninsula in as early as 10 years. According to him, there will be difficulties in several areas, including the economy and politics, during the first decade after reunification, but the unified Korea will overcome such difficulties through a combination of the natural resources and cheap labor of the North and the technology, capital, and brain power of the South.

He advises that it is better for South Korea to strengthen its relations with the U.S. even more than its current levels, because it will need help from the U.S. during the period after reunification. After all, the U.S. will be the country that will welcome the reunification most, while Japan will accept it bitterly even though it will not oppose the reunification because of the U.S. I think that, with so many domestic issues at hand, China will also have a hard time finding a reason to oppose reunification, as it has begun to lose control over the North.

After reunification, Korea will become a powerful nation and extend its power to Manchuria. I wonder what will be the fate of Manchuria. For no obvious reason, I am hopeful that China will allow Manchuria to be developed by the unified Korea, so that it will rule over the land as it did in the era of Goguryeo. Korea will become a technological center of a significant scale, and China will long for the advanced technology of Korea to overcome its crisis. The U.S. will also depend on Korea to find a balance between China and Japan, and thus Korea will rise as the strongest ally to the U.S. Russia will also lean toward Korea because of its territorial dispute with Japan. One most certainly cannot exclude the possibility that, against the U.S. policy that emphasizes Asia, Russia will build another Moscow in Vladivostok and will have Korea develop the vast region.

Therefore, we have to get out of a narrow perspective and prepare for reunification step by step, considering the limitless opportunities that will come soon. It is time for us to reassure China. We absolutely need policy and diplomacy to strengthen our relations with the country, guarantee compensations for its investments in North Korea, and promise a partnership for growth. The whole world looks upon the Republic of Korea for its brilliant economic growth in a short period. Meanwhile, the isolation of North Korea is deepening in the international community. Hence, instead of leaving the North as it is, we should start preparing an active plan for reunification.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the Kim Chang Joon US-Korea Foundation. For more information, visit Kim’s website at