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Thread: Supposing North Korea and South Korea reunified tomorrow...

  1. #1
    Contributor Crocodylus's Avatar
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    Supposing North Korea and South Korea reunified tomorrow...

    I've seen that the topic of Korean reunification has been covered on other threads in this forum. However, most of the time it's been about whether it can happen or not. Most of the time, widely differing political and social systems coupled with economic disparity was cited as the major obstacle.

    Now, suppose it did happen.

    I believe that, for one, the geopolitical power balance in Northeast Asia would be drastically changed. Tōkyō, Beijing, and world powers outside NE Asia would have to reassess and reorganize their foreign policy to account for the change.

    Without further preamble, I'll begin with the following question. Would a reunified Korea be able to take a position much like that of Switzerland or the Netherlands in Europe, or would a reunified Korea mean a repeat of the Four Kingdoms Era (with Goguryeo, Silla, Paekche, and Kaya)? It would be interesting to imagine the ramifications of a reunified Korea.

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    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    It will probably take close to 2 generations to get Nth Korea 'rehabilitated'....if everything goes to plan. The process will also suck up resources & people from Sth Korea at a phenomenal rate. We simply don't have much of an idea what that will do to the Koreas. An awful lot can change in East Asia in that time.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    It will probably take close to 2 generations to get Nth Korea 'rehabilitated'....if everything goes to plan. The process will also suck up resources & people from Sth Korea at a phenomenal rate. We simply don't have much of an idea what that will do to the Koreas. An awful lot can change in East Asia in that time.
    This, I think. If half of what we hear is true, concerning the living conditions in NK, SK would have to sink massive amounts of cash and reources, just to fed and maintain the population. Not to mention supplying electricity, etc. Kind of a Marshall plan...

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    Officer of Engineers
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    In the 90s, Beijing asked Washington to keep troops in a united Korea so that the US can prevent a war between Korea and Japan.

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    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    What United Korea? Kinda lost me here Col.
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

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    During that time, Deng Xia Peng had basically given up on the Kims and made moves to Seoul. The Seoul Olympics happened with zero incidents mainly because Deng told the Kims to cork it.

    Everyone saw the future unification of the Koreas under Seoul's leadership and made plans accordingly. The Chinese saw a future war between a united Korea and Japan and saw the US military presence as the best way to avoid that.

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    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    The reunification of Korea would not be cheap and easy, like Germany's experience.

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    It was a hell of a lot cheaper back then than it is today and for the foreseeable future. You had China giving up the Kims for dead and no refugee crisis to speak of and certainly, no teenage temper tantrums with nukes.

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    Contributor Crocodylus's Avatar
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    Thanks to all for the comments so far. If the Koreans want reunification so bad, why not make them pay the lion's share of it?

    I was thinking that a modest improvement in living conditions in DPRK, done in advance, would make reunification a bit more feasible, rather than a dangerous proposition. We would want to make the South Koreans suffer some discomfort as they pay the price for reunification, not send their economy straight into oblivion for a few years - which might force them to rely on Japan to take up the slaaack.

    As for a war between a reunified Korea (ReKor) and Japan, it would be just a continuation of old rivalries, I think. For one, imagine a much stronger Korean Navy. Taking Dokdo from the Japanese would be easier. If the leader of ReKor is ambitious enough, the Korean Navy would be able to rival the PLAN and JMSDF for domination of the Western Pacific, at least to prevent any threats to Korea-bound shipping.

    There is one reason why the Chinese may be against Korean reunification. One thorn in the side would be ReKor making moves at carving territory out of Heilongjiang and Jilin Provinces; Balhae and Koguryeo once occupied large territories of these provinces.

    Chimo, do you still think Beijing has P'yeongyang on a leash? Or would China prefer to see the two Koreas united under Northern rule because, one, a federation featuring power shared by both Seoul and P'yeongyang is not gonna happen and, two, US forces just across the Yal would make Beijing nervous? (I think the latter is a bit iffy, since China and the US are not exactly enemies.) One thing that is for certain is a drastically altered geopolitical picture if the two Koreas become one.

  10. #10
    Officer of Engineers
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crocodylus View Post
    Thanks to all for the comments so far. If the Koreans want reunification so bad, why not make them pay the lion's share of it?
    How long will you put up paying for your cousins room and board while they're sitting around doing nothing but watching your TV and and using your internet for porn and games?

    Quote Originally Posted by Crocodylus View Post
    I was thinking that a modest improvement in living conditions in DPRK, done in advance, would make reunification a bit more feasible, rather than a dangerous proposition. We would want to make the South Koreans suffer some discomfort as they pay the price for reunification, not send their economy straight into oblivion for a few years - which might force them to rely on Japan to take up the slaaack.
    Which means you have to rely on the Kims. How is that going so far?


    Quote Originally Posted by Crocodylus View Post
    Chimo, do you still think Beijing has P'yeongyang on a leash? Or would China prefer to see the two Koreas united under Northern rule because, one, a federation featuring power shared by both Seoul and P'yeongyang is not gonna happen and, two, US forces just across the Yal would make Beijing nervous? (I think the latter is a bit iffy, since China and the US are not exactly enemies.) One thing that is for certain is a drastically altered geopolitical picture if the two Koreas become one.
    What makes you think that Beijing had anymore influence than KJU's uncle did?

    KJU is a big fish in a small pond. Only thing is that he never left his small pond and came face to face with real sharks, ie the likes of Putin. Therefore, he is ignorant to the real powers that can hurt him and he acts the part.

  11. #11
    Contributor Crocodylus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    How long will you put up paying for your cousins room and board while they're sitting around doing nothing but watching your TV and and using your internet for porn and games?
    I was wondering whether the Koreans really want reunification, or if they prefer the current state of affairs.

    Perhaps ROK should just cut off all aid to DPRK, even at the risk of a military invasion. Or ROK can adopt a long-term plan to enter the DPRK economy and thereby arrive at influencing P'yeongyang's politics. Unless South Koreans in general have plenty of gumption, I do not see how footing the bill for Northern reconstruction and going deep in the hole as a result will not frighten them into delaying reunification.

    It's likely that the path to reunification will take at least several decades more. East Asian national histories are histories of thousands of years. Even 100 years is but a brief respite therein. Maybe in the distant future the current period in Korea will probably be known as "the Two Republics Period".

    KJU could liberalize the DPRK economy a little more la Deng Xiaoping, but this would mean compromising the control that the military faction has over the country. The events leading up to the execution of Jang Songt'aek and his associates probably had KJU thinking twice about any such liberalization. Sounds a lot like what Tokugawa Iemitsu had in mind when his government enacted the "sea restriction", otherwise known as the Closed Door Policy, in 1633-1639; by severely restricting Japanese trade with foreign countries the power of the merchant class was curtailed, thus allowing those samurai associated with the Shogunate to become Japan's rulers. Foreign goods and ideas still entered Japan during 1633-1853, but the government had tight control over the flow thereof - at least in domains falling under their control. Distant domains such as Matsumae in Hokkaido and Satsuma, around present-day Kagoshima, were too far away from Edo to be controlled effectively.

    For KJU it's all about the control. I'm sure he wants his government to join the ranks of great Korean dynasties, such as the Koryo and the Joseon. For that to happen, he has to keep his people in the game for as long as he and his children can.

    Which means you have to rely on the Kims. How is that going so far?
    What would be in it for the Kims? I don't seem them taking the bait unless their family's safety can be guaranteed. There are lots of people out there that want to see KJU's head on a platter. If that does not occur, then there are the military hardliners to worry about, should KJU decide that he can liberalize the DPRK economy on his own.

    KJU cannot simply do what he wants, especially since he is surrounded by senior officials who worked under his father and grandfather. Whether he wants to stick to the party line or adopt a more progressive course of development for his country, he must still respect the wishes of the militarists.

    What makes you think that Beijing had anymore influence than KJU's uncle did?
    I always thought that Beijing had DPRK on a leash. Perhaps CST's execution was meant as a reminder to Beijing to adhere as much as possible to its non-interference policy?

    KJU is a big fish in a small pond. Only thing is that he never left his small pond and came face to face with real sharks, ie the likes of Putin. Therefore, he is ignorant to the real powers that can hurt him and he acts the part.
    Might be safer for him that way. Would be nice to see Putin working KJU, though. Maybe he can force P'yeongyang to station some Russian Navy units at Wonsan.

  12. #12
    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crocodylus View Post
    I was wondering whether the Koreans really want reunification, or if they prefer the current state of affairs.
    Unless you find some reliable poll on how NORKs feel...

    Perhaps ROK should just cut off all aid to DPRK, even at the risk of a military invasion. Or ROK can adopt a long-term plan to enter the DPRK economy and thereby arrive at influencing P'yeongyang's politics. Unless South Koreans in general have plenty of gumption, I do not see how footing the bill for Northern reconstruction and going deep in the hole as a result will not frighten them into delaying reunification.
    Footing the bill is one thing, throwing money of the window is another. Usually those who foot the bill, want some control on how their money is spent. You wont find that in the North.


    It's likely that the path to reunification will take at least several decades more. East Asian national histories are histories of thousands of years. Even 100 years is but a brief respite therein. Maybe in the distant future the current period in Korea will probably be known as "the Two Republics Period".
    100 years to undo 60 years? In this fast moving world?

    KJU could liberalize the DPRK economy a little more la Deng Xiaoping, but this would mean compromising the control that the military faction has over the country. The events leading up to the execution of Jang Songt'aek and his associates probably had KJU thinking twice about any such liberalization. Sounds a lot like what Tokugawa Iemitsu had in mind when his government enacted the "sea restriction", otherwise known as the Closed Door Policy, in 1633-1639; by severely restricting Japanese trade with foreign countries the power of the merchant class was curtailed, thus allowing those samurai associated with the Shogunate to become Japan's rulers. Foreign goods and ideas still entered Japan during 1633-1853, but the government had tight control over the flow thereof - at least in domains falling under their control. Distant domains such as Matsumae in Hokkaido and Satsuma, around present-day Kagoshima, were too far away from Edo to be controlled effectively.
    Look at Vietnam.

    For KJU it's all about the control. I'm sure he wants his government to join the ranks of great Korean dynasties, such as the Koryo and the Joseon. For that to happen, he has to keep his people in the game for as long as he and his children can.
    At some point people will wake up hungry and very pissed off.

    What would be in it for the Kims? I don't seem them taking the bait unless their family's safety can be guaranteed. There are lots of people out there that want to see KJU's head on a platter. If that does not occur, then there are the military hardliners to worry about, should KJU decide that he can liberalize the DPRK economy on his own.

    KJU cannot simply do what he wants, especially since he is surrounded by senior officials who worked under his father and grandfather. Whether he wants to stick to the party line or adopt a more progressive course of development for his country, he must still respect the wishes of the militarists.
    Like he can't oust them one by one? Or in larger groups.

    I always thought that Beijing had DPRK on a leash. Perhaps CST's execution was meant as a reminder to Beijing to adhere as much as possible to its non-interference policy?
    Like to stop food and oil shipments? If he wants to get something, he must give something else in return.

    Might be safer for him that way. Would be nice to see Putin working KJU, though. Maybe he can force P'yeongyang to station some Russian Navy units at Wonsan.
    Putin is not that dumb to meddle in the complicated affairs on the far east. He has enough issues to solve on the western frontiers.
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crocodylus View Post
    ...
    Stop looking at ancient history. KJU ain't a historian. He certainly ain't giving two shits about restoration Japan or even Deng Xia Peng's successes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    Stop looking at ancient history. KJU ain't a historian. He certainly ain't giving two shits about restoration Japan or even Deng Xia Peng's successes.
    Even if East Asia has modernized like crazy in the last 50 years or so, the past is not entirely forgotten. For example, there is the Battle of Ganghwa Island in 1871, fought between Joseon Korea and the US and resulting in a US victory.

    KJU may not be much of a historian himself, but I'm sure he can fall back on what his father and grandfather taught him. Even in North Korea they learn about the history of Korea before 1948, which is referred to as the feudal period, at least before the Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula. Also, many of the senior officials in P'yeongyang fought or know someone who fought with the Korean Resistance or Chinese Communists against Imperial Japan.

  15. #15
    Officer of Engineers
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crocodylus View Post
    KJU may not be much of a historian himself, but I'm sure he can fall back on what his father and grandfather taught him.
    For Pete sakes, no, KJU learned shit all. Most of all, don't piss off the Americans, the Chinese, and the Russians at the same time!

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