S. Korea seeking unification by absorption

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Global Times, December 28, 2010
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Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are bound to worsen tomorrow with South Korea's unification ministry planning to submit a proposal to President Lee Myung-bak suggesting reunification through absorption.

In his biweekly radio address Monday, Lee called on the nation to show solidarity against North Korea's military provocations.

He told South Koreans that they should not fear war with North Korea, saying, "If (we) are afraid of war, we can never prevent war," even though his government is striving to maintain peace, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

Lee also said North Korea was focusing on dividing South Korea internally, saying, "They are focusing on trying to pull us apart. … If we show the North Koreans how steadfastly united we are, they will not dare challenge us," according to AFP.

Cui Zhiying, a professor specializing in Korean issues at Tongji University, told the Global Times that Lee aims at "enhancing domestic cohesion in South Korea."

South Korea is staging five days of naval drills, from Monday, in 23 locations, none of which are near the disputed maritime border with North Korea in the Yellow Sea.

According to the Chosun Ilbo newspaper, the unification ministry will provide plans to Lee next year focused on re-unification preparations with North Korea, and also on suggestions for funding reunification and getting support and cooperation from its ally and neighboring countries.

Cui said, "Many South Koreans are not interested in the reunification; what they care about is peaceful and stable development of the nation."

"The government decision on the reunification issue has nothing to do with the people, since the government and people look at the issue from different angles; people want to see the issue develop naturally," said Cai Jian, vice director of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University.

Tensions between the two Koreas reached their highest level in decades after the November 23 attack on Yeonpyeong Island by the North, which killed four South Koreans.

"Since North Korea's shelling attack, the South Korean government has shown its tough attitude on the issue, even though the government made many concessions in the face of North Korea's provocations," said Wang Gang, a Seoul correspondent for the Beijing-based Legal Daily newspaper.

As for unexpected attacks by North Korea in the future, Lee said strong retaliations are the only way to prevent war and assure peace.

"The war of words between the two Koreas aims to put political and diplomatic pressures on each other. … Lee's words are also used to pacify the people and will not lead to any serious consequences, because he knows both sides do not want to start a war," Cui said.

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