Four Crises of South Korea and their Solutions
South Korea has overcome the two hurdles of industrialization and democratization since the 1948 government formation. Now it is faced with another huge hurdle of 'reunification into an advanced country'. This huge hurdle is composed of four national crises that must be solved in order for South Korea to proceed into an advanced country.
(Emeritus Professor of Seoul National University)
The Crisis of Reunification
It is practically impossible to denuclearize North Korea and open its market and the possibility of internal drastic change accompanying the system collapse is sharply rising. In order to link the drastic change to reunification, we have to carry out three tasks. The first is stopping China's intervention, the second is drawing out tacit acceptance of North Korean citizens for democratic reunification, and the last is controlling North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles.
The Crisis of Democracy
South Korea succeeded in 'procedural democracy' of a direct presidential election in 1987. However, 'practical democracy' can be achieved only when elected leaders work for the interests of the nation and its citizens. These days, the democracy of South Korea seems to be suffering from two kinds of diseases. The one is the problem of political leadership. The unhappy marriage of politicians' populism and citizens' collectivistic selfism is making the governance continuously drift. The other is the problem of power structure. Currently power in South Korea is too much dispersed and too little centralized, which leads to reducing the competence of national planning and strategy establishment.
The Crisis of Capitalism
In the 21 century hyper-globalization, the world is facing deepening of low growth structure and widening of the gap between rich and poor. The low growth is a result of inadequate demand and too much supply and polarization is accelerating because globalization and technological development are making middle skilled workers redundant. In order to overcome these problems, in a short term, we can take expansive financial policies, in a middle term, we need to reform structures including education, and in a long term, we need to find new industries or markets. For South Korea, the opportunity of reunification can be a great blessing.
The Crisis of National Community
The South Korean 'values conflict' has come from too different experiences of different generations. Those who experienced the first half of the compressed growth, who are in their sixties or seventies, tend to have collectivism or heroism. On the other hand, South Koreans in their thirties or forties are individualistic and rather selfish. However, 'value vacancy' is a bigger problem. Value organizations like religious, educational, citizen and social groups are turning into interest groups. We need to revive 'Sunbi spirits' which assert that leaders should be both political and spiritual.
It is not that we don't have a road map for national restructuring but that we don't have a core group that will carry out the tasks on the road map. In order to overcome the four major crises, we need a political group that has reformative conservatism and rational liberalism. If a party is composed of people having those spirits, it will be enough to represent 75% of the people and have the power to implement the plans for the desirable reunification.
Complied by Taewoo Doh, laywer
Translated by Soojung, Kang, writer