South Korean Unification Ministry meeting Getty Images

Planning for Korean Reunification

Like the fall of the Berlin Wall, a collapse of Kim Jong-un's regime in North Korea could happen quite suddenly. To prepare for that contingency, the United States and South Korea need to assure China that a reunified Korea would not be its enemy, and that American troops would not suddenly be stationed on its border.

SEOUL – The long-simmering North Korean nuclear crisis has reached a near boiling point. Last month, the Hermit Kingdom launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting major US cities. The United Nations Security Council responded with a unanimous vote to impose new economic sanctions on the country – the most stringent yet – which would cut at least one third of its annual export revenue. Since then, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump have been hurling escalating threats at each other.

At this point, it is impossible to say what will happen on the Korean Peninsula. For now, all the international community can really do is continue to leverage a combination of economic sanctions, military pressures, and diplomacy to try to get the Kim regime to the negotiating table. But, at the same time, we should consider and prepare for all eventualities, from a military conflict to the peaceful reunification of North and South Korea.

The most catastrophic scenario would undoubtedly be a military conflict. And yet the likelihood of that outcome has now actually increased, owing to the Trump administration’s recent announcement that it is reviewing its military options, including “preventive war.”

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles from our archive every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/RzTiXB3;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.