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(Stars and Stripes)

In last week’s episode of Military Matters, North Korea expert and retired Army Special Forces Col. David Maxwell discussed how North and South Korea and their rocky relationship have evolved since World War II.

Co-host Jack Murphy and Maxwell continue their discussion in this week’s episode with a look at modern-day North Korea, what a theoretical unified Korean peninsula might look like — and who will pay for reunification.

“You know, if you ask Koreans, do they want unification? Many will say in their heart, they do,” Maxwell said. “But … the others will say, if you ask, do you want to pay for it? They'll say, hell no. And of course, that's one of the things that drives the fear of the costs of unification. I like to joke that there are probably more Ph.D.s, Ph.D. dissertations written in South Korea about East and West German unification than any other subject. And they look at those costs and they compare them to the stark differences — the greater differences between North and South than were between East and West Germany. And they're afraid of those costs.”

The South Korean entertainment industry — in particular South Korean drama TV shows — could help prepare North Koreans for eventual reunification. Maxwell brought up the Netflix show “Crash Landing on You,” a South Korean romantic comedy about a South Korean woman who ends up in the North after a paragliding accident and is rescued by North Korean soldiers.

“Before COVID, I met with a number of North Korean soldiers,” Maxwell said. “I asked them what they thought about this drama, this ‘Crash Landing on You.’ And I said, ‘What do soldiers who are seeing that on the North side think?’ [One of the soldiers] said it makes them want to come to the South even more than they already do. But what really impressed them was that the drama portrayed not only the Korean people in the North, but Korean soldiers in the North as human beings.”

You can find Military Matters on Twitter @stripesmmpod.

Follow Jack Murphy on Twitter @jackmurphyrgr and Rod Rodriguez @rodpodrod.

A transcript of the episode can be found here.

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