South Korean school tries lesson in unity with rival North
By Jon Herskovitz and Christine Kim
SEOUL (Reuters Life!) - The first lesson given to South Korean high school students on how to unify with their rivals is that North Koreans call the children's game "paper, rock," without the "scissors," but they play it the same way.
The biggest lesson given at the only school in South Korea where unification is a required course is that one Korea is an admirable dream that needs to be realized, but one that will be a daunting task because of how far the neighboring nations have drifted apart since they were formed more than 60 years ago.
"If you are Korean, you should hope for unification and it is part of your responsibility," said Hwang Jung-sook, principal of the West Seoul Life Science High School.
The school began its unification course in 1996, when tensions were running high and dreams of unity were overshadowed by worries of the Pyongyang's early pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Since then, tensions have seen their ups and downs while more of South Korea's youth raised in relative affluence have come to see their neighbors as people in an impoverished foreign country speaking a strange version of Korean rather than as brothers on the same peninsula.
South Koreans have also grown highly cautious of unification due to estimates that it would cost about $1 trillion to absorb the North, which could wreck the South's economy and saddle it with massive debt for decades.
The North's broken down economy, with an estimated yearly GDP of $17 billion is two percent the size of the South's, the world's most wired country that produces as many cars in about four hours as North Korea produces in a year.
But unification may come sooner than expected with a South Korean TV broadcaster reporting on Monday leader Kim Jong-il is suffering from pancreatic cancer and may not have long to live. Continued...