Prospect of Unification on the Korean Peninsula Essay

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An Introduction Korean unification is complicated by an extensive range of economic, diplomatic and geopolitical circumstances and has the potential to fundamentally change the strategic environment in North-East Asia (Fuqua 2011, 61). In recent years, the likelihood of peaceful reintegration on the peninsula has been increasingly questioned as tensions between the two states have risen and the possibility of conflict has purportedly escalated (Kim 2004, 1). North Korean development of nuclear weapons and its progressively more hostile rhetoric has stifled reunification talks with South Korea and triggered a stand-off with the United States (Bercovitch & Oishi 2012, 18). This has prompted many analysts to conclude that Korean reunification is now a distant and unachievable dream, although others remain convinced that absorption of the North into the South is inevitable and is thus just a question of time (Coghlan 2008, 1). This essay will argue that reunification on the Korean Peninsula will not occur in the foreseeable future but that, given its gradual and continuing decline, North Korea will not persist indefinitely and therefore the goals of the region’s key powers will be vital in determining the future strategic landscape of North-East Asia upon eventual Korean unification. This argument will be achieved by first examining the prospects of reunification in the current political and economic landscape, which will be followed by an analysis of various reunification scenarios, the likely implications that these scenarios will have on the strategic landscape of North-East Asia, and the goals of the major stakeholders in the region. The Reunification Predicament: Politics and Economics Since the country’s initial partition following the end of World War II in 1945, unification has been on the political agenda of both Korea’s (Coghlan 2008, 1). However, this goal

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