Wednesday, October 10, 2007

North and South Korean Leaders Meet: One Step Closer to Reunification

Sources: South Korean Sends Trade Message North, S. Korea Sends Envoys to U.S.


President Roh Moo-hyun of South Korea met with North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il this past week in a historical effort towards reunification. Although most South Koreans support reunification, many hold reservations about pursuing such efforts in light of Kim Jong Il’s history of human rights violations and nuclear weapons program. Some South Koreans staged protests against reunification, in large part because they view Kim Jong Il as untrustworthy.

President Roh Moo-hyun was accompanied by the heads of South Korea’s biggest businesses to North Korea. The basis of Roh’s policy lies in strengthening economic relations with the North by increasing the South’s investment in the region. The representatives of South Korea’s business sector included the heads of Samsung Electronics, Daewoo, and Hyundai Motor. This was a move some describe as the president’s making a statement about South Korea’s investment potential and economic strength. The business leaders opined that the warming of relations between the South and North is a positive and necessary step for the development of both nations. However, they would not commit to any notions of engaging the North by setting up manufacturing branches there. Samsung stands alone in having any operations based in North Korea.

Questions:

What are the major social and political benefits of reunification of the Korean peninsula?

What are the major downsides of the reunification?

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