Tidbits #10 – A Question of North Korea

kim jong il team america deceased

Cartoon Leader (Recently Departed)

Yes, you guessed it.  My nickname is the “great leader.”  A colleague once jokingly called me as such, and it stuck…  No I am not from North Korea – I was born in Busan, South Korea; raised in California; and educated in NY and Pennsylvania.  But it happens at every business mixer, cocktail party, etc…  As soon as someone figures out I’m Korean-American (vs. any other Asian heritage), the dreaded question is asked.  “What do you think about North Korea?”  Ugh…   People, politics, blah, blah, blah…   Can’t speak for other Korean-Americans out there, but I’d rather talk just about anything else including the weather and the three-legged duck, than North Korea…

On that note, here are my thoughts on former neighbor to the north of the border that recently made yet another headline for failed launch of its long-range missile system for the 3rd time.  Bottom line – sad really…   Politics and everything else set aside, only the people suffer…  Have you seen a recent satellite picture of the Korean Peninsula at night?  South Koreans were extremely gung-ho on the promise reunification until they saw the economic toll it took on West Germany after the two Germanys reunited in the early 90’s.  Now that the generation that possesses first-hand memories of the relatives to the north, have begun passing away, it’s not clear if the topic of reunification will stay as relevant as before.

When I was stationed in the DMZ in the 90’s as a US Army officer, we had an annual exercise called Warsteed or 7-day war.  If there were ever to be a real conflict in the Peninsula, the prediction was gloom and doom – it will be over in a week, and everyone dies.  Unlike in Iraq or Afghanistan where there’s room to maneuver and fight, South Korean cities are some of the most densely populated cities in the world.

Reunification – not in our life time.  War – hopefully not.  Diplomacy – yes please…   Sad, really…

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About Richard Lee
Experienced finance and operations professional. Currently partner in five companies, adjunct professor of economics at Columbia College and executive contributor to a small business blog (www.SMBmatters.com); following corporate finance, M&A and management consulting tenures with Orbitz and Diamond Technology Partners; and six years of service with the United States Army.

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