Sunday, March 13, 2011
The South's Bank of Korea said last August that the North's economy in 2006 stood at $22.8 billion but the survey from Lee Jong-seok said the figure was closer to $9 billion.Which does not make NK a total pushover - it may have a nuke and it has massive dug in artillery pointed at Seoul, which is within range of the border. Any military clash would be fearsomely destructive of both countries and if China decided its interests required that it not be united on the South's terms, would likely end with the country still divided.
This means that the average North Korean makes the equivalent of about a dollar a day, which puts the North among the world's 25 poorest countries in terms of per capita income.
But the Bank of Korea's estimate put annual per capita income at closer to $1,100, about the same as Nepal. ctd
However there is reason to believe China is no great friend of the Northern "spoiled child", which has been giving a bad name to "communism". If a united Korea was friendly towards Chins, as the South is currently trying to be, and removed the US division there, which the US would be happy to see gone and is only there because of the Northern threat, they would probably be happy.
Gaddafi's currently unavailable website, of all places, has produced an interesting evaluation of the benefits of peaceful reunion http://web.archive.org/web/20041207005534/http://www.algathafi.org/kurea-issue.htm . In essence a union would create a much larger educated hard working population, more accessible ports than the 2 separate and the release of massive resources from the South (and North) which prevent them playing a role in the world.
None of which answers the difficult question of how. My opinion is that it depends on making sure nobody in power in the North has greatly fear union.
The South should offer to pay the salaries of every Northern government official for life, so long as they aren't earning more elsewhere. They also guarantee an amnesty for any NK official who may be chargeable with "war crimes". China would also guarantee this and to provide residence for any NK official who wanted to leave and who would still receive salary from the South. These guarantees have to be formidable and credible precisely because various western promises, from those to Pinochet to Karadzic have proven false. It may not be abstract justice that some leaders may get away with things we don't like. though abstract justice would certainly not be served by a "prosecution" influenced by NATO states whose own leaders are certainly guilty of war crimes, genocide and organlegging. However as an alternative to starvation for the northern people and possible nuclear war for everybody it seems preferable.
In return for paying salaries they get a gradual loosening of the Northern dictatorship. A veto on promotions and new appointments. Taxes could be drastically reduced since they were being already paid.. Road, rail and telecommunication links between the 2 (I suspect the South even more than the North would fear free movement of peoples since 10s of millions of refugees would be unwelcome). Trade between the 2 be made free. The right of Northerners to take up free market jobs and the right of such jobs to exist without government regulation. The desired end result would be a zero tax, minimal regulation zone governed, through leaders appointed by the South to which many southern and indeed international companies would outsource much of their production and which would grow faster than the South could. It would probably take decades for the North to reach Southern levels of affluence and political sophistication, after all it took the South decades in the first place, but it would be done without deaths, refugees and war.
The cost to the South would be less than they presently spend on defence. Paying the full salaries of everybody would cost no more than $9 billion assuming the NK currency is valued correctly. Going on the post Soviet model we would probably find that most of the successful entrepreneurs were previous government apparatchiks so as soon as they were making money they would lose their government salaries. Doubtless even 20 years later there would be a few people still drawing the same government salaries while not required to do anything for it, but that would be far less parasitic than we see in Britain where "diversity officers" and suchlike not only get paid but also actually do things, which are entirely economically destructive, to prove how vital their jobs are.
We saw when W and E Germany reunified how the pull of a single currency collapsed the communist almost system instantly. So the North won't risk that.
That said, you never know. Maybe there are N/S contacts and quiet negotiations going on at a frequency level too high for us to register...