Unify slowly: German economist

KfW economist Norbert Irsch told the Maeil Gyeongje that South Korea that while German unification was a political success, it caused a lot of economic headaches. To avoid or lessen these problems, Korea should begin making detailed plans for reunification and, most importantly, make sure said reunification takes place slowly.

Like over a full generation—30 years—slowly.

He also advised that structures be created so that everyone involved—South Korea, North Korea and the surrounding powers—benefits economically as the two Koreas prepare to reunify. In particular, he liked the pipeline project that would take gas from Russia to South Korea through the North.

Marmot’s Note: It would be nice if the South got the time to prepare. Unfortunately, I don’t think North Korea’s going to be with us for much longer, and North Korea’s peculiarities make it difficult to build mutually beneficial structures at any rate. South Korea’s probably going to have reunification forced upon it sooner rather than later—in the short to medium term, it’s most likely going to be a mess. On the bright side, in the long term, we’re all dead anyway.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Well, that was essentially what the Sunshine Policy was supposed to do, right? And what did it accomplish? It lined the pockets of Kim Jong-il with more gold.

  • Keyser Soze

    Amen to Someguy’s comment.

    Having lived in Germany at the time of re-unification and an eyewitness to that history, I must add concerning a “slow reunification”:

    “That dog won’t hunt!”

    When the wall fell, it happened among tremendous unrest in the DDR, to the point where Gorbachev had to order Soviet troops to contain the once allied East German within their barracks. Berliners were shouting “Wir sind das Volk!” in the streets in Berlin at the risk of being rounded up by the Stasi’s or executed en masse on the spot. The people of East Berlin tore down the wall, not the US Army, nor the Russians, nor the diplomats, but the common man, “Hans Biedermeier” (or Joe Six-pack if you will)

    At the time, it appeared there was some attempt by the Bundesrepublik to slow unification down a bit, but that was not to be. Lothar de Maiziere was elected (the only free election in DDR history) as the last East German chancellor with the clear mandate to re-unify with the West.

    Slow re-unification? Forget it, the Ossi’s were in no mood for that and would have gladly taken to the streets against the Bundesregierung had unification been stalled.

    I cannot imagine any other outcome other than the way events actually played out. The Germans can wish in hindsight for a “slower” unification, but I submit that would be a total, absolute, Ivory-Tower pipedream!

    Could the West have planned better for unification? Maybe, maybe not. Much concerning the reunification was undertaken in a very orderly manner, (for instance; the Deutschmark to Ostmark swap) which was evident of some advance planning. Furthermore, West Germany actively pursued Ostpolitik for years before unification. The Germans are planners by nature, but the events of 1989-90 were bigger than any possible plan.

    Agreed, the Koreans should plan for re-unification now, and hopefully it’ll be a better plan than “Four Rivers” or “Saemangeum”. The CURRENT treatment of refugees from the North does not bode well for the South’s ability to accommodate unification.

    A slow unification? Don’t Bogart that joint, my friend, pass it over, because you’re smoking some really good stuff!!!!!