Seoul to enact unification law [2015/02/04 10:04]

South Korea said Monday it is seeking to spur its efforts to bring about reunification this year by establishing a legal and institutional framework, holding joint economic and cultural events with the North and boosting cooperation with other countries. The government set 2015 as the year to make “substantive progress” in unification preparations as the peninsula marks its 70th anniversary of liberation from Japan as well as its division into two countries.

Under the plans, legislation will be introduced to institutionalize the drive, facilitating the cultivation and mobilization of related organizations and personnel across the government -- even in future administrations. The Unification Ministry said it would propose to North Korea to form a joint committee to devise and prepare for cultural, art, sports and religious events marking the 70th anniversary, while pushing for the launch of inter-Korean cultural institutes in both Seoul and Pyongyang.

It is also looking to test-run a railway departing from Seoul for the North Korean border cities of Sinuiju or Rajin, all via Pyongyang, which may create synergy with an envisioned Eurasia express reaching Europe if it materializes. The plans were submitted to President Park Geun-hye jointly by the ministries of unification, foreign affairs, national defense, and patriots and veterans affairs.

“The plans reflect our efforts to make substantive preparations to put an end to the era of division and bring forward unification,” a top Seoul official told reporters. “The legislation would allow us to do so not just under the current administration, but also continuously in the future, stipulating what the state ought to do and how.”

The policy package attested to Park`s resolve to carry on with last year`s unification campaign as the showpiece of her third year in office. The plan came amid a backdrop of growing public apathy toward the reclusive neighbor and reunification especially among young generations, with some 92 percent of the South`s 50 million citizens born after the division.

It is the latest in a series of North Korea-related measures that appear to adopt a dual-track approach of reengagement and deterrence. Early last year, the conservative leader declared that a unified Korea would bring about a “bonanza” to not only the peninsula but the region and the world, and a chance for the national economy to take a great leap forward.

She then pledged to jack up humanitarian aid and economic exchanges with the North to help lay the groundwork for eventual integration in a speech in the former East German city of Dresden last March. Yet the latest initiative still lacks measures to induce a breakthrough in tense inter-Korean relations, critics say, while failing to address Pyongyang`s key concerns, in particular, related to security issues.

With the Kim Jong-un regime remaining steadfast in its nuclear ambition, Seoul plans to beef up cooperation with the U.S., China and other core neighbors to settle down a “virtuous circle” of progress in denuclearization and then inter-Korean relations.

In her opening remarks, Park reiterated calls for Pyongyang to accept her offer of “any form of dialogue,” discuss issues of mutual concern and work together toward unification. The Foreign Ministry, for its part, vowed to ramp up diplomatic efforts to stimulate a policy shift and prevent a fourth atomic blast or other potential provocations from the recalcitrant neighbor.
출처: 헤럴드미디어 영자신문 코리아헤럴드 (