South Korea President Lee on Sunday emphasized coexistence and proposed a unification tax to prepare for any future collapse of North Korea. Monday, he expressed strong support for this week's war games with the United States.
Seoul, South Korea
South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak faces a storm of criticism if he tries to push through a hefty “unification tax” to help cover the immense costs of reunifying North and South Korea in the event of the collapse of North Korea.
Then again, Koreans wonder how serious Mr. Lee is about the plan, presented Sunday on the 65th anniversary of the end of Japanese colonial rule. Standing in front of the massive newly reconstructed gate of a one-time royal palace that was destroyed by the Japanese, Lee said that “inter-Korean relations demand a new paradigm,” in which “the two sides choose coexistence instead of confrontation; progress instead of stagnation.”
But less than 24 hours later, on Monday, he called for “training thoroughly” in joint exercises this week involving 55,000 South Korean and 30,000 American troops.
The remarks reflect the dual outlook of a society that is prospering as never before but anxious about rising tensions in the wake of the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.