Laws to Avoid Conflict After Reunification Is an Important Step

      September 30, 2010 13:31

      The Justice Ministry is drafting a law to deal with potential legal disputes between North and South Koreans following reunification. The draft of the law contains clauses protecting marriages of separated family members that occurred after the two Koreas were separated, granting more inheritance rights to family members in the South who have been caring for the parent and imposes limits on North Koreans in disposing or transferring inherited wealth outside South Korea in the event of reunification.

      After North and South Korea signed the Basic Agreement in 1991 to address the plight of separated families, the Justice Ministry created a separate department to handle issues related to reunification and has been researching relevant laws, while the Supreme Court's research committee has also been studying the issue. The significance of the latest regulation lies in the fact that it marks the first step toward finding legal solutions to problems that could arise in the event of sudden reunification.

      North and South Koreans, who have lived under different systems since the end of the Korean War in 1953, would face legal conflicts. Residential registration following the authorization of civilian travel across the border and the reunion of separated families and recognition of real estate confiscated by the communists are some of the unavoidable issues. The government must also be prepared for measures to compensate victims of political oppression in North Korea and other sensitive issues. After German reunification, similar problems surfaced, and measures were taken to return land taken away by East Germany according to modern rates.

      The government must also make preparations in constitutional, criminal, commercial and labor law. That is the only way to minimize the political and social costs and ensure a smooth reunification.

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