RoK’s Unification Ministry in 2010

According to the Daily NK:

The 2010 total budget for South Korea’s Ministry of Unification has risen to approximately $135.3 million overall, a year-on-year increase of 26.9%. This incorporates a project budget of $103 million. The project budget excludes personnel costs and other overheads.

The slice of the project budget earmarked for defector support is $73.07 million, some 70.9% of the total. Other budgeted items included unification education ($7.3 million, 7.1%), situation analysis ($4.7 million, 4.6%), unification policy ($3.6 million, 3.7%) and support for abductees ($3.9 million, 3.7%). In addition, the budget for inter-Korean meetings, information and economic cooperation was set at $10.2 million dollars.

The most significant increase is that for North Korea situation analysis projects, which has risen from just $0.35 million in 2009 to $4.8 million this year.

This steep budget increase comes as a direct result of a new situation analysis department, set up in May, 2009 for the purposes of systematic investigation and analysis of the North Korean situation. The size of the budget is similar to that for equivalent undertakings during the period up until the late 1990s when North Korea situation analysis was one of the primary tasks of the Ministry of Unification.

A strategic decision to try and take back the lead in information gathering seems to have been a factor in the decision to proceed with this project and allocate a substantial slice of the budget to it. The Ministry of Unification’s decision to proclaim 2010 a “key turning point” and forge ahead in inter-Korean relations requires the establishment of support systems to gather and analyze data.

Despite being technically in charge of inter-Korean relations, the Ministry of Unification has always relied heavily on intelligence agencies for information. This project appears to reflect the Ministry’s desire to understand inter-Korean relations independently and establish a system imbued with the Ministry’s own character.

The decision seems also to incorporate an implicit understanding that the Ministry of Unification should be able to demonstrate its information gathering capacity in various locations, not least inter-Korean economic cooperation locations like the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

In reality, the Ministry is also in a good position to systematically collect up-to-date information on North Korea from persons entering Hanawon, the education center for defectors, and from those South Koreans who visit North Korea with Ministry approval. Finally, the Ministry is also best-placed to interact with international organization officials who have information regarding the provision of aid and economic and agricultural conditions.

The major projects the Ministry of Unification is pursuing within the budget in order to strengthen its North Korea situation analysis capacity are; ▲ Development of a “North Korea situation index;” ▲ Establishment of a system to digitize North Korean broadcast data collection; and ▲ Establishment of infrastructure for the analysis of gathered data.

The Ministry is investing $1.62 million in its North Korea situation index development project. The aim is to develop an objective statistical index to evaluate situational changes in North Korean politics, diplomacy, military, economy, society and culture.

The digital data collection project is simply to facilitate the changeover from analog to digital data collection.

Infrastructure for the analysis of North Korea data simply means establishing a database on individuals during this year, extending the range of information into the fields of geography and industry in 2011.

In other areas of the budgetary allocation, unification education targeting the young is an interesting feature this year.

The Ministry has earmarked $0.53 million for a “Grand Youth Peaceful Reunification Rally” in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. The budget for school unification education has increased 8.2 times from $0.27 million in 2009 to $2.24 million this year.

The Ministry also plans to spend a further $4.5 million this year to acquire land and fund designs for the second Hanawon project, which is scheduled for completion by 2012 at a budget of $31.21 million. Currently, a number of possible sites in Gangwon Province are being considered.

Separate from the regular Ministry budget, inter-Korea cooperation funding levels are set in accordance with the state of inter-Korean relations. The South Korean government plans to prepare a budget for the ‘Grand Bargain’ using inter-Korean cooperation funds as and when progress is made in inter-Korean relations.

Read the full article here:
Unification Ministry Budgets for New Intelligence Role
Daily NK
Kim So Yeol


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