The North Korean economy cannot sustain its population. Absent fundamental economic reforms, it will never be able to do so. Hence North Korea will require sizable external support for the foreseeable future. South Korea, China, Japan, and the United States have been willing to provide this support because they fear a collapse in the North or, even worse, a lashing out that would unleash war on the peninsula and put millions of people in Asia in jeopardy―including thousands of US troops stationed in South Korea and Japan. The status quo is thus closer to extortion than charity.
In this volume, a diverse group of contributors analyze prospective developments on the Korean peninsula. The authors first address the three broad strategic possibilities of war, collapse, and gradual adjustment. Four immediate policy issues are then considered: the current economic conditions and policies in the North, the food crisis, the nuclear energy/nuclear weapons issue, and the possibility of large-scale refugee flows. Finally, the volume considers several longer-run issues concerning the inevitable integration of the peninsula: the potential relevance of the German experience, the costs and benefits of economic unification between North and South Korea, and the possible role of the international financial institutions in funding the new arrangement. The volume concludes with recommendations for policymakers, especially in the United States and South Korea, from the preceding analyses.