With warming political relations, is Korean reunification possible?

As North Korean athletes arrive in South Korea for the winter Olympics, discussion about co-operation and reunification has been prompted.

North Korea appears supportive and positive about such discussions, urging “all Koreans at home and abroad” to “promote contact (and) cooperation between North and South Korea”

In the South, however, protests met the North Korean hockey team as they arrived and a poll suggested that 70% of South Koreans were opposed to the joint hockey team, concerned that their players would, in consequence, get less playing time.

Across the sea, reports have come out suggesting that China would support a unified Korea if it meant peace in the region.

The Chinese ambassador to the United States stated: “China would support reunification if it is the will of the Korean people. “As long as it’s peaceful, it’s independent (and) by the Korean people, China will support it,”

The big question though remains, Is reunification ultimately possible? And how? 

According to Statistics by Seoul National University’s Institute for Peace and Unification Studies in 2017 (and reported by Smithsonian.com), just under 25% of respondents did not believe reunification was possible. However, the same poll found that almost 54% of South Koreas felt it was necessary.

And discussions about what sort of system a reunified Korea would adopt is also a point of disagreement.  Whilst just under half would like to keep the same democratic system, other suggestions include a hybrid of the two or the continuation of both systems.

The 1990’s and early 2000’s saw some positive discussion and progress between the two nations, however, that appeared to stall when North Korea began nuclear and missile tests, as well as provoking behaviour.

And whilst communication and dialogue have improved between the two Koreas in recent months, the idea of reunification is still abstract. However, with both countries appearing to take steps in the right direction, only time will tell.

“The two Koreas fundamental ideological difference make it difficult to conceive a credible reunification strategy,”  – Anwita Basu, analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit (CNN)

 

 

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