The government will create a special account to prepare for the future reunification of the two Koreas. Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that all negotiations within the government have been completed and that officials will present the plan for National Assembly approval as part of revisions being made to regulations on aid for North Korea.
The ministry wants to fill the account with money that has not been spent from the inter-Korean economic cooperation fund.
The fund contains about W1 trillion (US$1=W1,151) set aside to promote economic exchanges between the two Koreas, but less than 10 percent has been spent due to icy relations between Seoul and Pyongyang. Only 7.7 percent was spent in 2010 and another 2.57 percent as of August this year.
If there is a large amount left over, the government can transfer up to W900 billion a year to the reunification account. It plans to start off with a few score billion and gradually increase the amount. Money from other sources, such as private groups and government investment, can also be added.
Yu said the government plans to boost the account to W55 trillion in 20 years. "We want to start preparing for that symbolic target now," he said. W55 trillion is the minimum annual cost of reunification according to estimates by state-run think tanks like the Korea Institute for National Unification, assuming it takes place in 2031.
When asked about an earlier plan by President Lee Myung-bak to impose a unification tax, Yu said, "We don't have plans to implement that right now."