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KCI등재 학술저널

Prospects for Peaceful Unification of Korea

Prospects for Peaceful Unification of Korea

The path toward unification President Park Geun-hye set forth in her Dresden speech may at first glance seem unrealistic, as there is little evidence to suggest that Pyongyang is interested in such ROK-led initiatives. However, the significant changes underway in North Korea society at the ground level may provide an alternative route to unification. While the Kim Jong Un family dynasty is unlikely voluntarily to surrender its power, especially if it faces charges by the International Criminal Court, the thousands of people who staff the DPRK apparatus are increasingly shifting to a different source of power – money earned through the nascent market economy. The marketization from below that began in the wake of the famine of the late 1990s has continued at an accelerating pace, and the profits being made through this new market economy are creating a new level of affluence and consumerism in the DPRK. At the same time, information about the outside world is penetrating North Korea to an unprecedented extent, raising expectations of living standards. Most importantly, marketization is producing new networks of loyalty. The sector of the population that previously staffed the regime’s apparatus now view business, rather than a position in the Korean Workers’ Party, as the route to success. As these processes continue, there may well come a time when a critical mass of the North Korean apparatus decides that their wellbeing is no longer tied to that of the ruling dynasty. If by that time they have also established economic and personal ties to South Korea, they may conclude that their prosperity and security lie in unifying Korea. For this positive outcome to happen, North Koreans who are newly empowered through participation in the market economy and contact with the outside world must be convinced that their lives will be better, not worse, in a unified Korean state. Otherwise, they will most likely seek further transformation of the DPRK without unification with the South. To persuade North Koreans that they will be secure and prosperous in a unified Korea is a formidable task, particularly as the DPRK continues to threaten the security of the ROK and its allies. Fortunately, however, positive developments are underway in the North, and South Korea can draw on the work of many countries, organizations, and individuals who share the commitment to a peaceful unification of Korea.

I. Introduction

II. Marketization from Below

III. Regime Response to Marketization

IV. Implications for Unification

Ⅴ. Conclusion

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