Too Early for NIS’ Unification Chatter

South Korean Minister of Unification Ryoo
Kihl Jae commented on the timing of Korean unification today, cautioning that it “should
not be thought of as a situation that can be brought about immediately or in the near

Ryoo, who was speaking before the National Assembly Legislation and Judiciary Committee, went on, “Because
the term ‘unification’ contains a great number of variables, it’s no easy task
to talk about ‘by what time [it can or will be achieved].’”

Ryoo’s remarks follow in the wake of the director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, Nam Jae Jun,
who told a yearend meeting of NIS executives yesterday, “Unification is
possible in 2015. Let’s die together to bring about the unification of our land
under liberal democracy.” Opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Park Jie Won reacted angrily to reports of Nam’s comments,
noting that “the implication is of unification
by force, and that is unhelpful for the peace and security of the Korean

Pouring water on the political tensions, South Korea’s Minister of
Foreign Affairs Yun Byung Se also echoed Ryoo’s view, stating, “We are putting a lot
of different kinds of effort into fostering an international environment
conducive to Korean unification, but it is a little early to be talking about
this at present.”

Elsewhere, Yun also warned of additional purges
following the execution of Jang Song Taek, noting, “We know that many people
domestically are anticipating this. The South Korean government is investigating
and analyzing various possibilities.”

However, Yun dismissed recent claims that Kim Jong
Eun’s half-brother Kim Jong Nam has requested asylum in South Korea, saying
that “We are not looking into anything like that.” Nam Jae Jun took a similar
line at a National Assembly committee meeting yesterday, calling the rumor

Nevertheless, Yun did reveal that South Korea has
implemented a policy to prepare for the possibility of North Korean elites seeking
asylum in the wake of Jang’s execution. “The order has been handed down to overseas
embassies and diplomatic posts to remain on alert,” he stated. “They are ready to pass word
to headquarters if there are North Korea-related movements.”