Ponder for a moment what it would be like should the North Korean regime suddenly collapsed and Korea was unified. Even without a war, this would be a devestating blow to the South’s economy. The hit on West Germany from the East will be a pale shadow of what unification will cost South Korea. As Twn notes, the younger generation in South Korea has very little idea of what life is really like in the North (primarily a result of propaganda efforts by the South Korean government). While we, too, can have little idea we at least realize that it is horrible beyond our ability to imagine. The East German state, for all of its oppression, was an oasis of bounty and freedom compared to North Korea.
How would the South Koreans react when their taxes become a deep and heavy burden as the Korean government spends money like water to feed, clothe and house the wretched of the North? I would expect the expense of running the North will be even more than Iraq, and we are a far wealthier country.
What of the tales that will be told in the South? Will the Southerners even believe them? With the South believe that the poverty of North Korea was caused not by Juche but by the hostility of the West in general and the US in particular? Perhaps China will use its well honed propaganda arm to spread this meme in the Korean population (the North Koreans may already be brainwashed in this regard, but it’s very difficult to tell how effective such brainwashing really is under such an oppressive regime).
Sadly, my prediction is that Korean unification will end up badly for the USA (again, the re-unification of Germany is a milder case in point). One might think that the shock treatment of the South Koreans seeing what life in the North was like will shatter their blinders, but my reading of history is that it’s more likely to make people grip their blinders tighter.