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Algora Publishing - Cheonan sinking ... and Korea rising By Peter Lee
                                               For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Tuesday,
Cheonan sinking ... and Korea rising By Peter Lee
More arithmetic for you: The Rand Corporation estimates the cost of Korean reunification at $50 billion, Credit Suisse insists $1.5 trillion is the expense, and Stanford fellow Peter M. Beck posits an alarmist $2-$5 trillion. Question: Who's got that kind of cash? Answer: North Korean mines. 360 minerals are sequestered in the Hermit Kingdom's caves, many trapped by flooding and NK's [North Korea's] appalling infrastructure. Billions of tons of coal, iron, zinc, magnesite, nickel, uranium, tungsten, phosphate, graphite, gold, silver, mercury, sulfur, limestone, copper, manganese, molybdenum... worth an estimated $2-$6 trillion (Goldman Sach's figure is $2.5 trillion). Reunification could be entirely paid for by these mines, perhaps with change left over.
Asia Times

The Cheonan sinking ... and Korea rising
By Peter Lee 

[...] Lee's "Vision 3000" reunification policy - an assisted suicide program for the North Korean regime predicated upon it opening up its economy to foreign aid and investment while delaying integration until North Korean per capita incomes had roughly tripled to US$3,000 - has started to generate some investment bank heat. 

South Korea's latest Vision 3000 video-conference pitch was hosted by Goldman Sachs.[5] 

A high tech trends website, h+, breathlessly spun the latest reunification scenario: it will pay for itself! With "change left over!" Just like Iraq! 

More arithmetic for you: The Rand Corporation estimates the cost of Korean reunification at $50 billion, Credit Suisse insists $1.5 trillion is the expense, and Stanford fellow Peter M. Beck posits an alarmist $2-$5 trillion. Question: Who's got that kind of cash? Answer: North Korean mines. 360 minerals are sequestered in the Hermit Kingdom's caves, many trapped by flooding and NK's [North Korea's] appalling infrastructure. Billions of tons of coal, iron, zinc, magnesite, nickel, uranium, tungsten, phosphate, graphite, gold, silver, mercury, sulfur, limestone, copper, manganese, molybdenum... worth an estimated $2-$6 trillion (Goldman Sach's figure is $2.5 trillion). Reunification could be entirely paid for by these mines, perhaps with change left over.[6]
It appears that Lee would prefer to treat northern Korea as the low-wage, resource-rich hinterland that powers the West-oriented-export economy of a united and pro-US Korea - rather than China's Shandong. China would also prefer an independent or at least autonomous successor regime with an Asian-authoritative tinge to arise in Pyongyang under Beijing's tutelage, one that would not look to Seoul for advantage - or enhance South Korea's military heft and diplomatic pretensions in the region. 

South Korea's well-advertised reunification-related hesitations may have less to do with the genuine financial and social burden of taking immediate responsibility for 23 million citizens of a failing state. It may be down to the vulnerability of the current political system system, particularly its ruling party, to a "flood of voters" - voters supposedly indoctrinated with a hatred of Lee - that immediate reunification would bring. 

What matters to South Korea today is, by this analysis, making it possible for post-Kim Jong-il's North Korea to pass into some form of pro-Western international receivership that guides its steps toward liberal democracy and eventual integration into the South Korean economic and political system on the most advantageous terms to Seoul. 

Reportedly, China is concerned that reunification managed by Seoul and the West will send North Korea, its large population, its rich resources, its loyalties - and its soldiers - into the arms of the South. 

In the unlikely event that the North Korean army was absorbed en masse into South Korea's armed forces, a reunited Korea would have 10 million soldiers under arms - more than China. 

This would not appear to be a future that China is prepared to promote, let alone subsidize by underwriting Lee's Vision 3000 program. 

However, if Lee succeeds in pushing the 
Cheonan incident up to the UN Security Council, there exists the potential to put North Korea's entire future in play on US and South Korean terms. 

As prospects for prolonging the status quo under Chinese auspices dwindle in the wake of the 
Cheonan sinking, the United States may find the prospect of Korea rising - a unified, vigorous, and economically vibrant regime replacing Japan as China's primary pro-US antagonist in the region - increasingly attractive. 

Notes 
[...]
6. The Next Global Superpower is ... Korea?, h+, Feb 24, 2010. 

Peter Lee writes on East and South Asian affairs and their intersection with US foreign policy. 

Cheonan sinking ... and Korea rising By Peter Lee