Research Speculation

The Key to Korean Reunification is through the Economy

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On Wednesday, I did an article that focuses on speculating what direction North and South Korea should take regarding their economic situation, as they would have to think about what kind of system they would adopt post-reunification, with their systems being so different, where South Korea pursues a more Capitalistic-like economy and North Korea being more like a command economy. In this article, I highlight the fact that the Korea’s need to reunify through their economies, and pursue a mutual economic development in order to foresee a more feasible angle to the unification process.


Can you really call it Reunification?


As I continue my research, I’ve focused most of my attention to the economic possibilities of a mutual economic development between North and South Korea. All of the other divisions, regarding war, defectors, are too delicate of a situation to address in terms of establishing a delicate narrative for reunification. The crux that needs to put on the proposal is through economic development as reunification, as there is an abundance of natural resources that are available in North Korea, which can supplement South Korea’s main advantages of being a technology giant in the world’s economy.

This goes back to a post that I did in the earlier days of my research, where I emphasized how a unified Korea can get involved in the One Belt One Road Initiative, where it is a development strategy proposed by the Chinese government that pays attention to bringing together the Eurasian countries and encourage cooperative efforts between them.

This is significant because other than trading through the water and through flight, the only way to trade on ground is through China. With this initiative put into place, this potentially allows new possibilities to Korea trading with other countries that have relevant exports that would facilitate technological development in Korea.

Revisiting Sunshine Policy vs. Strain Policy


We now come back to previous post that I’ve done comparing the Sunshine Policy and the Strain Policy, where the Sunshine Policy started as a means to cull the tension between North and South Korea. This policy aims to achieve a state of peaceful coexistence in the peninsula holding both Korea’s by changing North Korea through mutual exchange, reconciliation, and cooperation, while encouraging interaction and economic assistance.


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The Strain Policy seeks to do the opposite, where there is a battle of attrition through starving North Korea, hoping that the government regime will collapse on itself, and ultimately come down as a nation, enabling South Korea to come in and build new development. When South Korea and the United States sanctions all assistance and economic relief to North Korea in hopes that the system would collapse, leaving North Korea susceptible to South Korea absorbing North Korea back into the country.

This is where we come to a crossroads between these two policies, as a little bit of both is happening right now. South Korea’s current president Moon Jae In is following the Sunshine policy where he has friendly relations with North Korea, but the United States is enacting heavy sanctions on North Korea until they fully denuclearize their entire nuclear program. Interestingly, there is an article showing statistics that denuclearizing their program is actually a very tedious and time-consuming process, in which I will save for another article.

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It goes with a heavy heart to say that currently, the Strain Policy would be more effective in terms of time efficiency and cost-efficiency, but ethically, the Sunshine Policy is morally the correct thing to do, where there can be a unified system that can be created both economically and politically between the North and South Korean government. For the Strain Policy:

Pros Cons
Time-efficient Waiting for North Korea to collapse will lead to more North Korean citizens being under political labor camps and starvation
Cost-efficient Leading away from Communism, leading to tension with China and Russia
Fresh start to economic and housing development to the North Korean land South Korea is left with more-or-less the entire task of rebuilding the entire Korean peninsula
Ease into pure South-Korean assimilation and conversion Though efficient on paper, historical precedents have never turned out positive, (ex. Cuba, Iraq, Libya)

For the Sunshine Policy,

Pros Cons
More North Korean citizens will be saved and/or led into a unified Korea Time-consuming to come to friendly enough terms to unify
There would be a joint development to new infrastructure, dividing up the workload by country Splitting and combining different currency and wealth will cost a lot of money
It is the more peaceful conclusion to the conflict, where a compromise is established Heavily reliant on the trust of either party.

In the end, the point of a thesis proposal is have essentially a huge “What if?” project that is based on where I position myself in this conflict. I believe that a thorough understanding of the historical precedents and being aware of both sides is significant to establishing a strong argument for a strong claim. My argument lies within finding that compromise between both economic systems and utilizing the pros of both communism and capitalism, and propose a infrastructural plan that is a post-modern socialist economy that tries to leverage the advantages of both economies, such as China, Denmark, Netherlands, Canada, etc.

A Decentralized Economy


A decentralized economy is a branch off of the Libertarian Socialism economic system, where all decision-making is distributed among different economic agents or localized within production units. This kind of planning can take shape both in the context of a post-capitalist economic system in addition to a mixed economy. This kind of distributed decision-making is proportional to the impact on a person or group of people. Decentralized planning was brought up as a foundation for socialism and has been advocated by both democratic socialists and anarchists.


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Alternatively, there is the digital realm, where the use of computers and online networks can coordinate production in an efficient infrastructure, where it can solve a myriad of simultaneous equations required for allocating economic inputs efficiently. The only problem with traditional computer networks is that they are susceptible to being hacked, in addition to being utilized for illegal anonymous activity. This is where the introduction of the blockchain attempts at facilitating that problem.

Where Blockchain Technology is Involved


Time is money. It is actually one of the most valuable resources when considering a narrative of a successful unification between the Korea’s. There are inherent limitations to a system that is established on the physical realm. There are several factors to consider such as:
* Time spent through transporting resources through the trade routes,
* Time spent through meetings and conferences between relevant figures,
* Lack of a neutral third-party to a contract development system.

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As previously mentioned, there is a lot of planning that goes into organizing a decentralized economic system. This diagram is a little outdated, where the decentralized system is taking more of a distributed system, where the nodes are connected in a distributed-fashion, and take advantage of the “scalability” aspect of the infrastructure, where additional nodes or networks can be added to allow for convenient expansion.

Blockchain technology can be utilized to organize the different potential sources of economic development. Cryptocurrency itself is structurally democratic, where it has no bias, and it’s very difficult to censor. This becomes a whole different beast when government regulations are involved. With the government being able to regulate only the exchanges of cryptocurrency, how can a compromise be made in a system proposal where both countries’ government can utilize UnityCoin as the metaphorical glue that can centralize the economic system of both countries despite having such different economy models, with North Korea being a command economy and South Korea being a capitalist economy?

Here is where UnityCoin can become both:
* A business model where value exchange and transactions can be enabled between North and South Korea without the need for trust or a central authority.
* A source of spatial creation where a general consensus can lead to mid to post-unification development.

Strengthening the Importance of the Kaesong Industrial Complex



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All of these implications further strengthen putting the initial phases of the incubation phase of the proposal, as mutual economic development starts in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, both in terms of its function and its physical location. This complex in context of location lies right in between the capital cities of both countries, Pyongyang and Seoul, while being in the center of the current limited roadways that go from Pyongyang to the DMZ, and Seoul to the DMZ.


Reunification Highway, source


South Korean DMZ Train Line, source

If you look at these two maps, the first one shows the path of the Reunification Highway, where it connects Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea, to the DMZ border through a highway. At 170 km long, it actually stops just short of the DMZ, rendering travel to South Korea currently impossible.

The second map shows the current train line that is specifically designed to take tourists or people of interest to the different points of significance regarding the DMZ border, but not physically across the border. If you compare these two transportation lines into one image, you can see that it can theoretically connect, establishing an inter-Korean line of transportation, with the Kaesong Industrial Complex established right in the center of it.

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You have probably seen this diagram many times before, but this is my local scale diagram of my proposed site, which highlights how close this industrial region is to the Reunification Highway, and the DMZ zone that everyone sees in news and media outlets. This site is very significant in that it can both physically and metaphorically serve as the foundation for mutual economic growth for a unified Korea.


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