SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea dreams of forging an economic community with North Korea, using trade and investment to foster closer ties and help smooth the way toward eventual unification of the divided peninsula.These numbers probably tell just part of the story. If the two Koreas were re-unified, the cost to citizens of South Korea could be astronomical. Almost all of the twenty three million people in the North are almost certain to need public assistance. That doesn't include money needed to be spent on food, repairing and building infrastructure and more. I once read South Korea had twenty times the GNP of North Korea. The above article, if I'm reading it correctly, could be putting that figure at thirty times. At the time East and West Germany were re-united, it was like two or three to one.
The impoverished North, for its part, has visions far less grand, coveting basics like energy, fertilizer and light industrial equipment, things taken for granted in the wealthy South.
The huge prosperity gap that separates ethnic kin divided for decades stands as one of the most sobering challenges as the leaders of the two countries gear up for a summit meeting this week, the first in seven years.
South Korea, where sleek Hyundais cruise Seoul's boulevards and top-flight corporations like Samsung Electronics Co. seize global market share, has a nearly $900 billion economy, the world's 12th-largest.
Across the demilitarized zone dividing the two countries, North Korea's economy was estimated at just $25.6 billion last year, less than 3 percent of the South's — or about the size of Seoul's 2007 defense budget.
Bottom line- Some Koreans are going to prefer the current status quo.
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