Sunday, April 21, 2013

New Korea of 2050

The U.S. firm of Goldman Sachs has published information the columnist of the Catholic Times' View from the Window uses to prophesy that Korea will move up to second place as an economic power in 2050. He wonders how many Koreans would agree with him. But there is a catch, he admits, the Goldman Sachs report said a unified Korea would surpass the economic power of France, Germany and Japan in gross domestic product, and do so because of the mineral riches of the North.

Unfortunately, there is a lack of optimism for unification. And judging by the present political climate, with the North threatening nuclear war, unification seems impossible. But the columnist relates another unlikely scenario that turned out well. In Numbers 13-14, Moses sent twelve scouts to the land of Canaan to reconnoiter the land in preparation for an invasion. Ten returned with a negative report, seeing themselves as grasshoppers compared to the giants in the territory. Only two saw the possibility of success. Here, says the columnist, we have the image of a great leader who did not simply follow the suggestion of the majority. Instead, after weighing the merits of both sides, he chose to heed the advice of the minority and went on to victory. 

Today, a greatly improved economic life for all the Korean people is possible, the columnist assures us, despite the obvious difficulties, if unification becomes a reality.  Less than 10 years ago there were trips to the North to visit family and the popular destination Diamond Mountain.  Now our deteriorating relationship with the North is like riding a roller-coaster; no one is comfortable with the relationship.

To see meaningful change, he says, we will need leadership like that shown by Lincoln during the American Civil War.  After the defeat of the South, the North showed respect for the South. The Korean North and South must also respect each other, as well as improving the negotiating skills on the part of the South and encouraging the belief among all Koreans that unification and peace is possible.

Obviously, negotiating with the North is a very delicate matter but the results of a rapprochement, he insists, will affect the whole region, leading to a peaceful North East Asia. But regardless of our most hopeful plans, we have learned in the last 50 years that we can lose it all if we resort to war to solve our problems. The columnist presents his own scenario for the next 50 years.

By 2020, enter a peace agreement with the North and agree to provide economic assistance. Work on the highway from Kaesong to Sinuiju to Chongjin. Construct North-South factory districts and complete the rail line to Siberia. Agree to unrestricted family visits, both in the North and in the South, and facilitate cultural and educational exchanges. By 2040, significantly reduce the income differences between the North and the South. And by 2050, we will have, he believes, the birth of a great nation--a united and prosperous Korea.

Is this only a dream? he asks. It is no exaggeration to say we may need a  leader like Lincoln or Moses to realize the dream. But he wants us to think about the possibilities, and to remember that what is finally achieved will depend on God.