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Betting Odds for Korean Unification – Will the North and South Unite by 2023?

| January 28, 2022 9:23 am PDT

If you’re wondering what the odds for North Korea and South Korea uniting are, the answer might come as a surprise.

In December 2021, South Korean President Moon Jae-in declared that his administration — along with the North, the US, and China — had agreed, in principle, for a formal end to the Korean War. A very appealing prospect, but there is surely more to be done before the two sides of the border come together?

Betting on the unification of Korea might be one of the stranger markets you’ll come across this year. But the bookies are offering odds for North and South Korea to unite as one nation as early as 2023.

It was once regarded as an impossible feat. But are we close to seeing the two nations combine for the most historic political move of the 21st century so far?

Let’s take a look.

Betting Odds for a United Korea by 2023

North and South Korea to Unite by 2023+200

You can bet on North Korea and South Korea uniting on the top political betting sites online.

Of course, with markets of this kind, there are conditions that bettors should be aware of. In essence, these odds will only pay out in the event of the two nations combining as a sovereign state, as recognized by the United Nations, by 2023.

As I write this, we have just under two years for that to happen. Given that the conflict between the two countries goes all the way back to the Korean War of the 1950s, less than a couple of years might be a little ambitious. At these odds, it doesn’t appear to make much sense at all.

But if history has taught us anything, it is that nothing is impossible. The Moon Landing, for instance. Or the collapse of the Soviet Union. They were significant markers for humanity that few saw coming.

How about the Battle of Thermopylae, when 300 Spartans faced up to the might of the Persian army? Or how Ed Sheeran made millions by selling tons of records despite having no discernible talent?

That last example shows nothing is beyond the scope of reality, providing the right people are working to make it happen. 

Then again, stuff like this doesn’t really help, does it?

Why Are North Korea and South Korea at War?

Technically, the two sides of the border have been at war since 1953. 

The Korean War, which devastated the country leading to millions of deaths, was ended in July of that year. An armistice was announced, with a Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) re-established to separate the two Koreas.

The war had started on June 25, 1950, when North Korea — backed by communist nations China and the Soviet Union — invaded the South. Of course, South Korea was supported by the United Nations, with the United States its most prominent ally. 

If you have a keen eye for detail, you might be wondering why the countries were divided before 1950. The reason why is that Korea was annexed by Japan in 1910 until the Japanese surrendered in World War II 35 years later.

Upon its surrender, the Soviets and the US divided the country along the 38th parallel. The northern administrative zone would fall under the responsibility of the USSR with the South coming under the support of the Americans.

But when the Cold War broke out in 1948, a physical division line was drawn up as a border to separate the two states, with the northern side becoming a socialist republic by the name of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Overseen by Kim Il-sun, this would become the totalitarian dictatorship we know of today.

To the south, the Republic of Korea — described as a capitalist state run by the authoritarian regime of Syngman Rhee — was founded. It has since grown to be an economic powerhouse, with a GDP that makes it the fourth-largest economy in Asia.

Both leaders insisted that they were the rightful leaders of Korea as a whole, refusing to recognize a permanent border. That is probably the only thing that they had in common.

Since the 1950s, the countries have pretty much grown to be polar opposites. North Korea is one of the poorest nations on the planet, relying majorly on aid from China. That wasn’t always the case, however. At one point, its GDP per capita was much higher than the south. 

Today, over 60% of the nation lives in poverty while South Korea goes from strength to strength. So why would betting on Korean re-unification be a good idea? Surely someone is going to end up with the raw end of the deal?

When Will North and South Korea Unite?

That depends on so many factors. So much so that it would take someone much smarter than me a long time to break it down.

At its most fundamental core, however, it’s clear that there would need to be co-operation between the two states. The south would be taking on a huge financial burden in the event of the reunification of Korea, which was estimated to cost around $1 trillion back in 2010.

That figure accounts for circa 60% of the South’s GDP. Today, the figure would be even higher, potentially crippling the south and leading to economic collapse.

In August 2010, South Korea’s president President Lee Myung-bak used the 65th anniversary of Korean independence to call for a potential “reunification tax.” This would effectively create a pot that would see to the unification of the south with North Korea, which he claimed would “definitely come.”

Fast forward eleven years, and the number of southerners willing to embrace the idea of unification is not encouraging. 

In fact, less than half of South Koreans think unification to be a good idea per a poll conducted by the Seoul National University.

Circa 44% of respondents aged between 20 and 74 thought it was necessary, which is the lowest outcome in over a decade. Furthermore, the majority of modern South Koreans do not feel as tied to their northern counterparts as future generations.

Will the End to the Korean War Mean Unification Is Coming?

The short answer is no. It doesn’t mean for much, given that talks between both heads of state have yet to happen. 

December’s announcement that an end to the war had been agreed in principle doesn’t hold mega weight. Especially with North Korea’s demands probably enough to see those south of the border abandon talks. 

What does North Korea want? Well, Kim Yo-jong — the influential sister of North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un — claimed that an end to what she sees as ‘hostility’ from the United States toward her country is a pre-requisite for talks.

“What needs to be dropped is the double-dealing attitudes, illogical prejudice, bad habits, and hostile stand of justifying their own acts while faulting our just exercise of the right to self-defense.

Only when such a precondition is met, would it be possible to sit face to face and declare the significant termination of war.”Kim Yo-jong

North Korea is against the presence of US troops in South Korea, in addition to US-led sanctions on the weapon program of its nation.

It’s unlikely that the White House would be willing to put an end to any of the above, at the risk of jeopardizing those south of the border, and this could protract the process for many years.

Betting on Korean Re-Unification by 2023

I don’t see the political omnishambles that is Korean relations coming anywhere close to being resolved by 2023. 

Sure, anything can happen. Again, history has shown us the capabilities of life to spring countless surprises, even in a geopolitical context. It will be tough enough to see North and South Korea enter talks that lead anywhere without the influence of China and the United States. With them, it’s just not going to happen. 

As for the betting odds for Korean unification? At +200, there are more valuable markets on our political betting blog that you should be looking at. 

That’s one north-south divide covered. Anyone for betting on the re-unification of Ireland?

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Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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