3 Million NK Refugees Expected in Crisis: BOK

Korea Times
Na Jeong-ju
1/26/2007

If at least one member of a North Korean household moves to South Korea after reunification, more than 3 million from the North may head south if the two Koreas are reunited, the Bank of Korea (BOK) said Friday.

According to the BOK’s Institute of Finance and Economy, if such an exodus takes place in North Korea after reunification, the South may face serious economic consequences, the report said.

If Koreas adopt a German model, in which West Germany extended financial support to East Germany before and after reunification, South Korea would shoulder a total of $500-$900 billion in reunification costs. If the money is spent appropriately, it will take 22-39 years for North Korea to top $10,000 in gross national income, the report said.

The institute proposed South and North Korea try to reduce economic gap through economic cooperation programs. If the South supports the North through development programs, using its capital and the North’s cheap labor, it can reduce reunification costs considerably, it said.

“It is desirable for the two Koreas to designate special economic zones to reduce their economic gap and conduct programs to develop the North Korean economy,’’ the report said.

With the development programs, the South can spend much less than adopting the German model, the report said. The reunification costs will be cut to $300-500 billion, while the period for North Korea to see a GNI of $10,000 will be shortened to 13-22 years, it added.

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