Thursday, October 07, 2010

Germany, 20 years after unification, still has uneasy tension between the two former regions.
The discussion has primarily emphasized financial disparities: wages in the east remain at 80 percent of the west’s; the unemployment rate in the east is nearly 12 percent, about double that in the west; and the average wealth of an East German family is about 40 percent lower than its West German counterpart. And of course, those in the West often complain about the $1.7 trillion paid — so far — to rebuild and prop up the east.


Yet no one here is whitewashing the disappointment, the sense even now, two decades later, of feeling treated as immigrants in their own country, of the deeply insulting perception that their values — forged in a socialist state — were expunged and delegitimized. No one forgets that some of the former states are struggling financially and still losing population, and that 30 percent of the jobs in the east vanished with reunification.

“There is an East German identity, yes, but it must be,” said Ms. Kummer’s close friend Katrin Fromm, 44, a surgical nurse in Erfurt. “It was my life; you cannot just say the East is out.”
For Some Germans, Unity Is Still Work in Progress [New York Times]

When Korea is unified, it will be lucky to have only that level of anxiety after 30 years.


  1. And you just cannot compare East Germany to North Korea...

  2. Yes, North korea is FAR WORST of a basket case than East Germany ever was! So unifying the korea will take an herculean effort that sadly no one is willing to tackle right now.

    Of course, South Korea talk an good game about reunification but the reality is that they need to take up the burden of essentially "taking care" of the North, so imagine the strain on society? Not to mention there will be residual "hold outs" from the old DPRK regime that will resist this through extreme measures?

  3. Considering the small number of North Korean refugees in South Korea - and the resentment on both sides that occurs because of the adjustments that need to be made (not just monetary), it's impossible to imagine.

    I've read this in other places with different details, but this is the one I've found quickly:

    Real, meaningful reunification might take generations - especially because of all great cultural differences between the two.

    I remember walking into the living room while my parents were watching a drama - and there was this guy that could only be described as developmentally stalled - because of the way he was delighted with his cell phone, the very slow way he was speaking, and I was surprised. I asked my parents if the issues of handicapped people were being addressed, and they replied 'no, that's a North Korean defector.'

    Maybe that's changed - it's been some years since then, but I remember thinking that was kinda awful.

  4. I meant to say, "it's impossible to imagine on a national scale how that would play out."


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