Is Korean Unification Really Possible?
Since 1953, the Korean peninsula has been divided. The North has primarily been supported by China and Russia, and the South has been supported by America and other countries with similar interests. During the Korean War, American intervention saved the South from the North. Many other countries also contributed to the defense of South Korea. Since then, South Korea has developed into a very prosperous country. North Korea remains isolated from most of the world and it is a poor society that is ruled by dictators.
The legacy of the Korean War and the nation's separation still exist today and that will probably never change.
Will the Separation Ever End?
Lately there has been talk about rejoining both countries into a single nation. Why is this notion considered to be a good thing? South Korea does not need North Korea, nor will it benefit from reconnecting with North Korea. However, it's obvious that North Korea would greatly benefit from reconnecting with South Korea. Why is there so much passionate interest in reuniting the two estranged countries into a single Korean nation? Who would benefit from that reconciliation? Would reuniting simply serve as a true end to the Korean War since it never officially ended?
Opinions on a reunited Korean nation vary among generations. In South Korea, most people under age 40 are not in favor of reunification. They see no benefit in being part of North Korea. However, those who are much older tend to favor reuniting because of national pride or because they have family members on the other side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ).
Barriers Between the North and South
What would a reunification even look like? One can see that the process of reconnecting would cause more chaos and political intrigue than what's currently present in the Trump presidential administration! One can see how the North would try to slowly gain control through a variety of means. How would the two vastly different governments even join together? The reunification process could only work if the North Korean dictator was removed from his position of power, but taking him out would spark a major political incident.
China's presence and interests also factor into the current state of the Korean peninsula. China's fear of a pro-West country like South Korea extending to its border and the possibility of the presence of American forces on its border remains a key reason why China allows North Korea to exist in its current state. After all, during the Korean War, it was not Russian troops that battled Americans and others, it was Chinese troops. The Chinese use North Korea as a buffer. A Korean reunification would be troublesome for China, which is why China continues to support the north.
North Korea would benefit from the South Korea's strong economy and modern technology, but what would South Korea get in return? A borderless country? Free travel? Security without the looming threat of invasion? More farmland to cultivate? Some enhanced manufacturing capability? All of these options could potentially benefit the south, but do they provide enough incentive to reconcile?
In my opinion, all this talk about reunifying the two Korean nations is just the result of wishful thinking. South Korea would gain very little from reconnecting with North Korea. The two governments would have to agree on so many issues and it is hard to see how the two nations could strike an acceptable balance between their differing political ideologies. The reality is that unifying would be more complex and costly than people can anticipate. The results of a potential reconnection would probably resemble Iraq's greatly fractured government. I think that reunification would be a fiasco.