The 5th Asian Leadership Conference opened on Monday in Seoul. Hosted by the Chosun Ilbo and TV Chosun, the conference drew renowned global leaders, who agreed that Korean unification would open a new age for Asia.
President Park Geun-hye delivered the opening speech and said that the "age of a reunified Korean Peninsula" will connect the Korean Peninsula with the Eurasian continent to create "new growth momentum" and lead to prosperity.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush said in his keynote speech that Korean reunification would benefit the entire Asian region.
The topic of reunification has rarely been discussed in gatherings of global leaders, partly due to fears of agitating North Korea, which is extremely sensitive about any mention of a regime collapse. The topic has mostly been confined to experts, and views were predominantly negative due to the huge estimated cost.
But this year the taboos have started dropping away. Reunification would be impossible without the cooperation of the international community, which is why it is essential to raise awareness that a reunified Korea would not only promote peace in Asia and the rest of the world but also offer a new growth momentum.
Yet North Korea on Monday fired into the East Sea two ballistic missiles with a range of more than 500 km, the latest in a line of missiles and artillery projectiles it has been setting off. There is absolutely no chance of Pyongyang voluntarily halting its nuclear and missile development and choosing radical reforms and market-opening measures. Any future discussions of Korean reunification must take place with one eye constantly monitoring any security breaches by the North.
Park recently referred to a satellite photo published on the front page of the Chosun Ilbo showing a brightly-lit South Korea at night against a pitch-dark North Korea. She said the photo made her "think again about the reality facing the Korean Peninsula and the future that needs to be created." The time has come to step up international efforts to bring light to the North.