February 25, 2024

Reunification of Koreas may not be inevitable

South Korean focus on ‘conquest’ in post-unification peninsula deters hopes

The prospect of a Korean reunification in the short rather than the long term has recently been raised again, this time in a paper prepared by Bruce Bennett for the RAND Corporation. As usual, and despite dressing arguments up in scholarly fashion, what we are given is a hope that perhaps one day what people see as the problem of North Korea will just go away. Alas! I suspect it is all more complicated than that.

On the surface, the idea of a reunified Korea becoming a reality seems to be almost a no-brainer. Here is a peninsula that was more or less one political entity from the 10th to the 20th century. It would be hard to think of another state that had a continuous political existence from 930 to 1905 A.D., with one ruling dynasty from 1382 until the end. Indeed, one can argue that even under Japanese colonialism, Korea continued to exist, since the Japanese never implemented fully the professed aim of uniting Japan and Korea as one.