WikiLeaks China: A Reunified Korea?

With the disclosure of thousands of diplomatic cables this past weekend by WikiLeaks and 5 major newspapers across the globe, the news has been awash with revelations about what has supposedly been happening behind the scenes in various political scenes.
One important surprise has been China’s apparent fatigue with dealing with its recalcitrant neighbour, North Korea. Speculation has been running full tilt at what is going to happen in this closed, secretive Stalinist regime since reports about the health of Kim Jung-il have been pointing more and more to his decline and death. Pundits have been wondering about the latest round of military activity being nothing more than a means of solidifying the transition of power to his son, Kim Jong-un. After all, his trips to China in May 2010 and again in August seem to indicate that the leader was in discussions with China about such a regime change.
Whatever the case, it appears that China is tired of the whole situation with North Korea. The New York Times which released their own copies of the WikiLeaks documents has reported that U.S. diplomats were saying that China would not be against a reunification of the two Koreas. While the Chinese politburo is still divided on this question; there seems to be a movement towards a consensus on reunification.
With the North Korean economy in shambles and their bellicose posturing before the world community ramping up tensions; China could very well do without this liability. Experts have been guessing that after the death of Kim Jong-il; the country’s political structure would more than likely fail within two or three years. If this is in anyway true, the possibility of a reunified Korea would be as miraculous as the reunification of Germany. After such a long time of accepting the status quo, it would be hard to believe such a radical change.
What would reunification mean for North Korea?
Korea: North and South: night and day: By the numbers
South Korea has twice as many people as North Korea. South Korea’s economy is 35 times bigger that the North’s or the North’s economy is only 3% of the South’s. South Korea’s economy is ranked 15th in the world while North Korea is ranked 88th.
The average income of a person in South Korea is 24 times higher than a person in North Korea or a North Korean has an income of only 4% of the income of a South Korean.
South Korea
North Korea
Communist state, one-man dictatorship
49 million
24 million
$986 billion
$28 billion
per capita income
life expectancy
79.1 years
63.8 years
military per capita
11 per 1,000
highest in the world
40 per 1,000
In comparison, Canada’s GDP is around $1.3 trillion and per capita income is $39,700 with a population of 34 million.
I look at the numbers for North Korea and try to picture what $1,244 per year means. In February 2010, my wife and I spent 2 weeks in Egypt where the per capita income is $2,500. Obviously, Egypt is a Third World country. I can say quite frankly that we truly have no idea of what Third World actually means. At these income levels, you have to realize that many of the basic necessities about which we don’t even think like clean running water may not be available. Add to that other basic services like electricity, health care or even being able to buy food and one begins to realize that "We’re not in Kansas anymore".
True Story
About 10 years ago, I worked with a man who had immigrated to Canada from Serbia. He told me the story of bringing his mother over for a visit and one day taking her with him to Loblaw’s to buy some groceries. He told me how his mother was absolutely stunned. She told of going to the grocery store back home but finding the shelves empty. She just couldn’t get over the opulence, the myriad of choices of what we take for granted here in Canada.
The Satellite Picture
The included picture is a satellite photo of the Korean peninsula. Note the lights. South Korea and the surrounding Chinese territories show lights while North Korean is completely dark except for light in the capital Pyongyang. This is tangible proof of just how poor the country is. The population can’t afford lights.
There can be no doubt that a reunified Korea would be good for the North. It certainly would be a good thing for the rest of the world. One less cult of the personality would be welcomed.
Click HERE to read more from William Belle
Wikipedia: North Korea
Wikipedia: South Korea
CIS Factbook: North Korea
CIA Factbook: South Korea
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1 Comment

  1. Why is the US and S Korea playing war games in the Yellow Sea? Would N Korea shell S Korea without China’s blessing? Is the US and China playing a dangerous game of chess? Am I going crazy?

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