Apr 27, 2017
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For years, the Republic of Korea (ROK/South Korea) has pursued a policy of peaceful reunification with North Korea. Many in the ROK believe that the ROK would take the lead in any instance of unification, in large part because the ROK dominates North Korea economically, demographically, and in numerous other ways. Indeed, then-ROK President Park Geun-hye and then-U.S. President Barack Obama made a joint declaration in 2013 that pledged to work toward a "peaceful reunification based on the principles of denuclearization, democracy, and a free market economy." Yet North Korean propaganda indoctrinates that country's elites to believe that ROK-led unification would be a disaster for them, one so awful that they are unlikely to even survive. Unless these North Korean elite views can be changed, it is hard to imagine how peaceful unification could ever be achieved.
This report examines what could be done to convince North Korean elites that unification would be good for them. It describes five areas of concern that North Korean elites would likely have about the outcomes of unification and proposes policies that the ROK government could adopt that would give North Korean elites hope that unification would be acceptable for them. The author proposes unification policies in these five areas of concern that the ROK government should consider with urgency; it may take years for North Korean elites to believe that the ROK is prepared to act in a manner favorable to them, and it is unclear that unification is that far off.
What Will North Korean Elites Likely Want?
North Korean People's Army Generals and North Korean Physicians
Planning Across Scenarios