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Korean Unification

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Take a look at Robert Kelly’s series of posts on the USC-CSIS “Challenges for Korean Unification” project (part 1, part 2, part 3). Kelly’s argument, if I may boil down, is as follows:

  1. The workshop participants concentrated too much on learning lessons from the U.S. experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not enough on the unification of Germany.  While the DPRK is in a much more dire position than the GDR, an occupation-style counter-insurgency frame is likely the wrong way to approach the problem.
  2. It is extremely unlikely that the North Korean regime will long survive any effort at Vietnam-style political and economic reform; the existence and persistent prosperity of South Korea undercuts North Korean claims to legitimacy.
  3. The South Korean state apparatus will come under dire strain as it attempts to absorb the former DPRK; managing massive internal migration will be a major problem, but hardly the only one. Efforts to prevent internal migration are unlikely to succeed, and are immoral in any case.
  4. Efforts of regional players (most notably China) to “veto” reunification in the context of North Korean state collapse are likely to fail.  At the same time, Koreans probably expect more from Japan in terms of financial assistance than they’re likely to receive.

In any case, it’s an interesting read.

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