The Chess Game of South Korea, North Korea and China

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Global Trade

Yesterday, Stuart examined the metal supply markets for North Korea and opined that China has exerted its influence to secure its own self-interests. Late last week, I had the opportunity to have dinner with some good friends of ours whose parents, from South Korea were in town. As it turns out, the father is a CEO of a steel container company and offered up his own opinions as to the situation regarding re-unification, the future of South Korea and China’s strategy.

My friend’s father believes most South Koreans would like to reunify with North Korea for all of the reasons stated in Stuart’s post¦to have access to natural resources, lower cost labor but also to create a better place with more opportunities for the people of North Korea. Many South Koreans still have family in North Korea. He also believes China props up the North Korean regime not only to secure metals and other natural resources as Stuart points out, but to keep North Korea’s 40+m inhabitants from crossing into China, which already has its hands full in trying to keep its own population gainfully employed. In addition, he said that China props up the North Korean regime because it fears the alternative, a re-unified Korea with the economic prowess and success of the South combined with the low cost labor advantage of the North. Think German reunification.

Tricky political waters for sure.

–Lisa Reisman

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