N.Korea Policy to Shift from Engagement to Reunification

      December 27, 2010 12:56

      The government is to start fully fledged preparations for reunification with North Korea next year, in a signal shift from the traditional emphasis on stability and cross-border exchanges to a more aggressive vision for the future.

      A senior official on Sunday said the Unification Ministry will brief President Lee Myung-bak on Wednesday on its objectives for next year, which will be focused on preparations for reunification.

      Following North Korea's artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island, Lee has made a series of comments hinting at signs that North Korean regime is cracking. At a meeting with Korean residents in Malaysia on Dec. 9, Lee said, "I feel reunification is now not far off" and called it an "important change that nobody can stop." And in a speech at a government meeting on Dec. 3 he said, "No power in history has been able to resist the changes sought by the public."

      Another government official said, "The focus of next year's North Korea policy has shifted to bolstering our capacity to handle reunification rather than on communicating with the North." He said there are efforts to map out measures “that can bring about changes among the North Korean people."

      The ministry also plans to brief Lee on suggestions for funding reunification and gaining the support and cooperation of South Korea's allies and neighboring countries. This marks a U-turn in North Korea policy, given that Unification Minister Hyun In-taek only told Lee in his New Year's briefing early this year that an inter-Korean summit could be possible in 2010.

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