North Korea is poised at the crossroads of history. Which direction will its leader take?
Despite the seeming convergence of political interests between Kim, Moon, and Trump, a fundamental remaking of the Korean Peninsula can happen only if Kim Jong Un makes a strategic decision to save North Korea by dismantling the Kim dynasty. So long as he remains in power, however, Kim will never make that choice.
Since the 1950s, the United States has been designated to command South Korean forces in the event that war once again breaks out on the Korean Peninsula. The August 2019 military exercises are a big step toward changing that.
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.
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.
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.