South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak, has urged North Korea to replicate Myanmar’s political and economic reforms as a first step towards peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula.
Mr Lee, who has less than eight months left of his single five-year term, said the North’s enforced leadership change at the end of last year provided the communist state with a “good opportunity” to follow Myanmar’s example.
Asked by journalists about the possibility of the North’s collapse under its new leader Kim Jong-eun, Mr Lee said it was not appropriate to talk of such a scenario and stressed that North Korea should revive its economy for an eventual reunification.
“Look at Myanmar. The country has a territory three times bigger than [a united] Korea and has rich natural resources. But its per capita income stood at only $800, a similar size to North Korea’s, because of a long military dictatorship,” Mr Lee said.
“But North Korea should look at how big [a] change Myanmar’s opening has brought to the country recently.”
Reforms introduced by Myanmar’s quasi-civilian government have led to the easing of international sanctions. During his trip to the country in May, Mr Lee called on his Myanmar counterpart, Thein Sein, to persuade North Korea to follow in its footsteps.
Mr Lee said South Korea would help Pyongyang revive its economy if it followed Myanmar’s example. [FTchinese]