Although no unusual trends occurred after the death of Kim Jong Il, there is the belief that, if a sudden change happens on the Peninsula within the next few years, up to 365,000 North Koreans will move into South Korea.
On the 24th the Korea Employers Federation(KEF) in the report ‘Labor Market Changes and Policy Challenges After Reunification’ asserted that if change occurs and a radical unification happens, it could lead to a situation where many North Koreans come to South Korea, resulting in social economic chaos. The KEF claimed that South Korea is capable of only taking up to 2,220,000 North Koreans.
◆Approximately 3,650,000 North Koreans will move South if a rapid unification occurs
The report stated that the income gap between North and South Korea is at least 20 times and this is the biggest factor that will bring the North Koreans down southbound. According to the ‘Model of Population Shift Due to Income Gap’, after the unification, a minimum of 1,610,000 or a maximum of 3,650,000, North Koreans can move into South Korea.
North Korean residents are expecting an average worker’s wage then there will be 1,610,000. However, if they expect an overall average minimum wage, the committee is expecting a larger flock of North Koreans to the South.
In the same context, the report stated that North Koreans coming to the South will offset low birth rates and the aging population and South Korea needs to suggest alternative policies to reduce foreign worker dependency.
Most of the North Koreans coming to the South will be unskilled workers and are expected to be suitable for simple labor, and so South Korean small businesses will be able to fill in the manpower shortage.
◆Around 2,220,000 North Korean including dependents absorption feasible in South Korea
According to the KEF, the unmet reinforcement in domestic low-skill workers is 86,000 people. The target can be met by the 344,000 (3 dependents per person) North Korean workers.
Based on figures from October of last year, there were 497,000 non-professional foreign workers in South Korea and 175,000 illegal aliens. If 70% of these workers were to be replaced by North Korean workers then 47,000 North Koreans can be recruited, according to the Korea Employers Federation.
If the low skilled workers and non-professional foreign workers were to be replaced by North Korean workers (including the dependents) around 222,000 North Korean workers can be accommodated in South Korea.
The KEF reports revealed that, shortly after the unification and through surveys of different regions in North Korea, there need to be public works projects and vocational training and reeducation of the North Korean laborers who are used to the socialist market economy.
The KEF pointed out, “In Germany’s case, a rapid increase in wage immediately after unification will cause the weakening of industrial competitiveness, and further cause a negative impact in the North Korean industrial rebuilding”, it continued, “Whether it is a rapid or gradual unification, the government and political circles need to consider these parts and formulate policies.”