Skip to comments.Contemplating Korean Reunification(NK collapse can come quicker than expected)
Posted on 01/04/2010 1:10:59 AM PST by TigerLikesRooster
Contemplating Korean Reunification
The North could collapse more quickly than we think.
By PETER M. BECK
North Korea's nuclear program has preoccupied foreign policy makers for years, but it's not the only problem on the Korean Peninsula. Kim Jong Il's regime looks increasingly unstable and could collapse. That could lead to North Korea's reunification with the South and could present foreign leaders with the expensive task of modernizing the North's economy.
There are three plausible scenarios for a Korean reunification. One would be sudden and bloodless like what Germany experienced. The worst would be a reunification marked by the kind of violence Vietnam suffered. The third is somewhere between the first two and akin to the chaotic post-Communist transitions of Romania and Albania.
Any one of these outcomes would be expensive. The North's economy is in shambles. It collapsed in the 1990s amid a famine that likely killed hundreds of thousands of people. Fixing the economy will require new infrastructure, starting with the power grid, railway lines and ports. This alone will cost tens of billions of dollars. Few of the North's factories meet modern standards and it will take years to rehabilitate agricultural lands. The biggest expense of all will be equalizing North Koreans' incomes with their richer cousins in the South, whether through aid transfers or investments in education and health care.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
Hence, we have this grand pathology called N. Korea today.
As for cost of rebuilding, there is no other way but to make N. Korean economy grow in its own pace using its advantage of labor cost, to bridge the gap with S. Korea. Other options are economically infeasible. N. Korea should be made to some sort of protectorate of S. Korea for a while.
Of course, things will get easily messy if N. Korean people want to enter the South legally or illegally in great numbers. China could meddle in and push its own plan of making NK its own protectorate or satellite. These two movements can collide and create further problems.
A major factor often overlooked is that we are not in a stable period worldwide. Economic crisis is deepening and U.S. is already in trouble, while China is soon to follow as well as Japan sinking again under its weight of huge debt. No major power can have the extended stability to push its long-term plan on N. Korea.
What I envision is a great uncertainty in N. Korea, where situation frequently changes. A player in the driver seat could change one day from another.
All parties involved managed to hold off eventual resolution for too long. Kim Jong-il did most to create this disastrous condition, in flat-out refusal for any real change. Instead he has tried to ensure his survival through nuclear card. China did second most contribution to this problem by refusing to put real pressure to N. Korea, fearing that it may lost influence in N. Korea. S. Korea did its part by 10 years of leftwing regime selling appeasement as pain-free wonder solution, ending up providing lifeline to dying regime. They also surreptitiously amplified latent anxiety for N. Korea's rebuilding cost among S. Korean population. U.S. did its part by trying time and again appeasement approach spearheaded by deluded foreign policy professionals who entertained the fantasy that nice talk to Chinese or directly to N. Korea would solve this problem. All parties contributed this mess albeit in varying degrees, and it is going to blow up on their faces. Some people may have the hope that since we managed to avoid any disaster so far, it will stay that way. However, it is not going to work that way. The fact that we held it off so far is not the proof that it won't happen. Rather, it is a strong indication that it will be big when it finally blows. Kim Jong-il cannot last forever and in fact his regime will unravel sooner than we think. It is quite possibly unpredictable and sudden.
Seems like So. Korea has good experience in pulling itself up from being a low-cost producer a few decades ago, and with the right management it could nurse No. Korea through a similar cycle. Sure, there’ll be great humanitarian costs in tending to a distressed population, but I think there are the seeds of its own rejuvenation there as well.
When NK fails. it will become part of greater China, and the USA and SK will not be able to do a thing to stop it.Obama is too weak.
Unless China is busy dealing with other pressing matters, due to developing economic crisis of its own. The coming great uncertainty is both a curse and a blessing when it comes to the N. Korean problem.
Soon Obama wil be making noises about closing down US military presence in SK.
Well, SK is not exactly free either, you can be jailed there for working with NK, but that's minor - SK is nearly in the state of war with NK, so I won't be judging them.
What is more important is that China has no choice in the reunification matter. Say, the regime falls. Is China going to invade NK and annex it as a province? No way. Is it going to set up a puppet government? No way, it won't last (they seldom do.)
Besides, why reunification would be a problem? This will neatly take care of the SK also, the SK will be too busy (and too financially committed) to do anything else, for many years. China will gladly let NK to bleed SK in the reunification mess.
With regard to the money, NK borders SK, China and Russia. These countries have more than enough resources to invest into NK. Of course there will be strings attached, like ownership of new factories, access to minerals, perhaps to ports, and so on. But money-wise, China is awash in money, in fact it *needs* to quietly dump some of the dollars it has. Rebuilding of NK will give a great pretext; depreciating dollars go in, land and factories go out. Great deal, I say.
don’t get your hopes up.
the NK regime is coup resistant
I don’t see any food riot yet
The currency reform is an attempt to clamp down the emergence of alternate center of power beside the state. This measure itself upset some cozy relationship with new business class and powerful figures. They could resent it.
Money and corruption are eating away the system. One of these days it will break down.
Obama Doctrine will prop up the NoKComs menace and evil to the world, to continue it’s path to kill all of us.
>Coup can happen before any widespread riots.<
not in my opinion.
NK, Cuba, Saudi, Iran, Saddam-era-Iraq, Venezuela.
have the scheme figured out.
...there are layers of —>families<— surrounding
China already has started the process. NK traditionally does not want to be a Chinese satellite. However the economic crisis does not give the ruling NK much a choice. Accept Chinese aid/szcerinty or face the NK mob. I think the generals around Kim Il Jong made their move. China is infusing cash into NK in exchange for iron ore. When Kim dies the generals will form a committee and rule the country, while one of Kim’s sons will be controlled by this committee. Once stabilized, China will use economics to control NK. The NK ruling committee members will be rewarded with lucrative economic opportunities as NK economy is rebuilt with Chinese money. Looks like the Ming Dynasty/Qin Dynasty style control has returned in the 21st Century.
You are entitled to your opinion, but NK system went through so much attrition. Many of these guardians of the regime are not up for their job. None of the example you mentioned went through massive famine, and its population eked out a living by rudimentary market place, only to see their little means of living ripped away from them.
Perhaps you have not tracked the sequence of deterioration since 2008 in N. Korea.
Last December, widespread riot was averted not by brutal crackdown but by the regime dumping money on population after severe backlash. All those money dumped would see it value collapse because the state cannot provide goods. There will be some development this year. Kim Jong-il would probably be in begging tour to China and summit with S. Korea. If it does not secure enough goods to stabilize rising inflation, things will really heading downward.
My guess at this point is that he could secure some and raise expectation among his population that more would be coming. It will buy him some time, but it will run out again. Because he won't give up nukes.
In the mean time, the rot of corruption would continue. People find other way to cheat the system.
People were pacified so far to the extent that the state let them make their living at the market and looked the other way. That is how the regime contained the fallout from famine. Now that it is taken away, and food supply is not getting better(actually could be worse due to some crop damage,) the coming spring would be the critical period.
To some superficial observer, things may look no different from last year or a decade ago. However, things do deteriorate continuously. We are in a period of high uncertainty. Things may look ok now, and Kim may look firmly in charge. However, his protective shells is not what it used to be, even though it may still look alright. In this stage, there is a high chance of freak accident finally cracking his protective shell.
It may give no forewarning.
(Tiger, thanks for your thoughtful response)
countries around the world learned the lesson
of 1989 Romania
you need lots of goons, and,
use them early.
look at Iran
Tiger, I like your analysis better than the article’s.
I felt the writer fell short in not considering Chinese intervention to prevent SK/NK reunification. Also, he did not consider the income that would be generated by NK as it adopts capitalism. I expect a great surge in GNP, for the people will have opportunity and hope and food. They already know how to work.
I agree the reunification will be more difficult than Germany’s, but N. Koreans are not East Germans. They will be ecstatic over survival and hope of improvment.
Finally, the writer did not consider the influence of Christianity. SK has a zealous Christian community and so does NK. I expect substantial evangelization of the North, from within and without. Do not discount the Christian community worldwide from pouring billions in aid to this poor nation.
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