S. Korea to North: Time for Reunification?

Seoul broaches the idea of reunification tax
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2010 10:13 AM CDT
South Korean veterans shout during a rally against North Korea on Liberation Day, Aug. 15, 2010. President Lee Myung-bak urged North Korea to make a "courageous change" toward peace.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

(Newser) – Given North Korea's penchant of late for threatening nuclear destruction and seizing fishing boats, the South had a strange message today: Let's get together. In a speech marking the Koreas' liberation from Japan, President Lee Myung-bak today called for a special tax that would pave the way for Seoul to shoulder the financial cost of merging with the impoverished North.

“Reunification will definitely come,” said Lee. “I believe that the time has come to start discussing realistic policies to prepare for that day such as a reunification tax.” As the New York Times notes, the timing may have a deeper meaning: With Kim Jong Il in a weakened state of health, the South may be trying to step in before a successor can solidify support. So don't expect a big hug from Pyongyang: “North Korea will take a unification tax as the expression of a South Korean attempt to prepare for a sudden collapse of the North Korean government,” says one expert.

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