President Park Geun-hye and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the history of Germany’s reunification and its application to Korea’s future reunification at a summit and dinner on March 26 (local time).
The Korean president, through the summit meeting, refined her own reunification bonanza strategy that emphasizes the economic benefits of reunification. She nailed down details of her plan by carefully studying the process of Germany’s reunification. Her bonanza strategy is to think about reunification from the angle of maximizing Korea’s economic volume in terms of the “economy of scale,” which goes beyond expanding its economic territory.
After her talk with Merkel, President Park stressed the importance of sharing Germany’s reunification experience and the need to deal with a sense of difference, or the emotional gap between the two Koreas.
The day before, President Park reconfirmed the importance of trilateral cooperation at a three-way summit meeting between South Korea, the U.S., and Japan, saying, “If North Korea takes the path of denuclearization, it will lead to easing of its residents’ difficulties.” The statement stressed that in the process of unification, North Korea’s nuclear disarmament is the only way to free its citizens from poverty and repression.
Park reaffirmed that she will continue giving humanitarian aid to North Korean residents to overcome the sense of difference or disharmony, while explaining to the chancellor about the background of her reunification bonanza strategy.
Her German counterpart is known to have presented her own measures and political ideas on reunification including minimizing reunification costs, recovering a sense of kinship, assuring the soft landing of an integrated social system, and combining national defenses, while also evaluating Park’s strategy highly.
The Blue House comments that the meeting was conducted amid a most friendly atmosphere, given their special ties.
The two leaders have a lot in common in political philosophy and values. They are both self-made women who have reached the top, the first female presidents in their respective countries, coming to power after both countries have overcome daunting political challenges. The two resemble each other in their state policy as well, as both have a strong drive and stern principles.
The two even share a political history, in that they both have science/engineering backgrounds. President Park majored in electrical engineering while Merkel majored in physics, and both rescued their troubled parties as the conservative opposition party leaders.
Park and Merkel first met back in October 2000, when Park visited Germany on an inspection as the deputy governor of the opposition party. Merkel was the party leader of Germany’s opposition party at the time, as well. Park recalls their first meeting as including a lot of discussion on South-North Korean exchanges.
Also, it is known that Merkel had a lot of influence on Park in terms of forming a political philosophy and values, as the latter kept track of German social and economic reforms led by the chancellor.
They continued their friendship, illustrated by Merkel sending a congratulatory letter when Park was chosen as a presidential candidate in August 2012, and again by delivering a congratulatory message right after Park won the presidential election on December 20, 2012.
During the September G20 summit meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Park visited Merkel’s residence, where she was welcomed with open arms.
President Park is planning to reveal the details of her refined plan on North Korea on March 28 in what some are already calling the “Dresden Declaration” or the “Germany Unification Doctrine,” After her meeting with China, her trilateral meeting with China, the U.S., and Japan, and her consultations with Chancellor Merkel, she is expected to reveal a refined version of her reunification bonanza theory in detail. Experts anticipate that she will address her problem-solving direction for North Korea’s denuclearization.
The speech is ostensibly for receiving an honorary doctorate from the Dresden University of Technology.
President Park will also include topics such as “manpower cultivation for unification” to minimize the shock and conflict on the path to reunification, on top of economic measures to deal with building outdated infrastructure, reinforcing economic cooperation among South Korea, North Korea and Russia, and solving the poverty problems of North Korean residents.
While the speech will give detailed accounts of backgrounds and future roles of the planned “Unification Preparation Committee,” it will also present a theory as to the need to groom “reunification preparation manpower” or “unification experts” to help smooth the transition in terms of merging the defense, culture, and social systems where the two Koreas have big discrepancies.