The president of South Korea, Lee Myung-bak, proposed to set a reunification tax, a tax that will fund the reunification of the two Koreas. Analysts fear that the cost of uniting the poor North with the rich South will be huge, and that the South won’t be able to bear it.
Next to the ventilator in my cozy home I wonder why the South’s president made this proposal.
1) Most South Koreans do not want to fund the reunification; so this does not sound like a good idea if Lee wants to be re-elected.
2) The North has made an angry response to this idea of the president; so this idea does not draw the two Koreas closer to each other.
3) As a veteran of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, I put my money that even if the president of the North, Kim Jong-il, dies without preparing his son for succeeding him, the military rule in the North will go on.
4) Even assuming that the Koreans are more sensible than the inhabitants of the middle east, and that once the current dictator of the North joins his ancestors the North Koreans will start marching towards the south, trampling the soldiers that will try to stop them, the amount that the South will be able to raise in taxes until the ailing Kim Jong-il dies will not be enough to make any difference.
5) The people in the North who may be encouraged by this proposal will know nothing about it.
6) So I am left with only one reason for this tax: Lee really thinks about the future. He believes that in 10 or 20 or more years the two countries will be united, he believes that the cost of unification will be huge, and so he tries to prepare for it. So that in 30 years, when the line between the two Koreans is suddenly deleted, the South will be able to fund the unification without any effect on its economy. If this is the case, I salute President Lee. I wish that we, in the middle east, had leaders with such a vision.