Speed Reads

Trump-Kim Summit

Experts agree it would cost trillions to unify North and South Korea

Let's say North and South Korea decide they are ready to move forward as one country — how long would it take, and how much would it cost?

CBS MoneyWatch spoke with several experts, who agree it would cost a trillion dollars under the best circumstances, and would take several decades. Some estimate it would cost at least $3 trillion, and everything hinges on why the countries are coming together — if it was an agreement, the cost would be less, but if North Korea's economy collapsed or war broke out, the price tag would have to include reconstruction costs.

William Parker, COO of the East West Institute, told CBS MoneyWatch not to expect the two countries to come together like East and West Germany did. "The GDP per capita is $33,200 in South Korea and $1,800 in the North," he said. "If you compare those numbers to West and East Germany, it's a completely different ballgame — the [per capita GDP] ratio there was estimated between 7 or 10 to 1 as opposed to 40 to 1 in the case of South and North Korea." South Korea's annual economic output is about $2 trillion, while North Korea's is an estimated $40 billion, with China accounting for 90 percent of its total trade volume.