A few years ago, a Korean friend of mine spent a college year abroad in Tanzania. In South Korea, access to information about North Korea on the Internet was blocked. In Tanzania, it wasn’t. Impressed by what she learned, she cut-and-pasted some of it into an email to her sister.
After she sent the email, she remembered that in South Korea it was illegal to cut-and-paste from a website. She called her mom to tell her sister not to read the email. The message was successfully conveyed and her sister deleted the email without reading it.
In the last year, however, the South Korean government has changed its policy and is now trying to educate citizens about life in North Korea. Information is no longer blocked. Now and then people escape. They are put on show and tell about North Korean life many times. The intention is to prepare for the coming reunification. Special committees have been formed to discuss how to solve the anticipated problems.
We are used to hearing about the advantages of dividing one country into two, but my friend had no trouble explaining why the South Korean government wanted reunification. One reason was that the war with North Korea was very expensive. Another was that families had been divided. A third was that since North Korea has nuclear weapons, reunification will mean that South Korea has them. (My friend had not read a certain newspaper article the day she said that.) This article suggests that the real reason cannot be said out loud. It is that reunification will allow South Korea to take advantage of the land and people freed by the collapse of North Korea.
“What have you learned from the reunification of Germany?” I asked.
“There will be chaos for a long time,” she said.