Korean unification will pose massive governance and economic challenges that go far beyond denuclearization. To ensure stability, South Korea should work with international partners now, to sketch out how a unified Korea might work.
The United States and North Korea are once again locked in a diplomatic standoff over denuclearization and the normalization of U.S.-North Korean relations. This has brought the promising start North and South Korea have made on building peace and security on the Korean Peninsula to a halt.
As South Korea pursues engagement with North Korea, thinking about unification through a stabilization framework can provide critical clues on navigating major challenges that unification might bring.
What are China’s interests and influence in bringing about a durable settlement of the North Korean nuclear crisis and how can Washington shape the future of North Korea vis-a-vis China?
Integrating the two Koreas will be an arduous process. How the unification process evolves depends on the success of stabilization—which cuts across responses in political, military, social, and economic domains.
Significant progress has been made on this track over the past year, but the process is on life support and badly needs an industrial-scale shot of adrenaline. Bilateral relations between North and South Korea have undergone a rapid and positive transformation.
Trilateral defense coordination offers Japan, South Korea, and the United States an important avenue to advance their mutual interests and support peace and security in the Asia Pacific.
Whether Pyongyang has the capacity and the resources for large-scale demobilization and reintegration—and is prepared to implement market reforms that would be required to make the most efficient use of these resources—remains an open question.
In the event a peace and security regime for the Korean Peninsula leads to North Korean agreement to reduce its conventional weapons and equipment, Kim may want to convert portions of the North’s defense industries to production of civilian goods.
The stakes for South Korean President Moon Jae-in could not have been higher when U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in Hanoi in February 2019. The delicate relationship between Trump and Moon provides important context for their upcoming meeting on Thursday, April 11.