Preparing for Korean Unification: Scenarios and Implications

Preparing for Korean Unification: Scenarios and Implications

Preparing for Korean Unification: Scenarios and Implications

Preparing for Korean Unification: Scenarios and Implications

Synopsis

This study examines four alternative scenarios that would result in the unification of the Korean peninsula. The authors describe the defining characteristics of each scenario, potential indicators that would predict specific outcomes, some possible variations in paths to unification, and some operational implications for the U.S. Army under different conditions and circumstances. The four scenarios (peaceful unification, collapse and absorption, unification through armed conflict, and disequilibrium and external intervention) highlight both the increasing vulnerabilities of the North Korean state and the substantial uncertainties that attach to each outcome and to the potential U.S. policy respones.

Excerpt

If and when Korean unification occurs, it will constitute one of the decisive strategic changes in Northeast Asia since the outbreak of the Korean contlict nearly half a century ago. Depending on how various political, military, economic, and regional factors come into play, the outcome of the unification process could range from relatively manageable endgames to highly problematic and violent ones. Managing the results of the unification process will also usher in major new challenges for the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and the U.S. Army.

This report evaluates four alternative unification scenarios, each with corresponding characteristics, potential indicators, variations, and operational implications for the Army. We have labeled these scenarios according to their predominant characteristics: (1) integration and peaceful unification; (2) collapse and absorption; (3) unification through contlict; and (4) disequilibrium and potential external intervention. By describing the major dimensions of each scenario, we can identify some of the policy and operational challenges that U.S. and ROK security planners could face under each outcome.

The findings in this report summarize and integrate the results of a research project on “Korean Unification: Implications for the U.S. Army,” sponsored by the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, U.S. Army, and conducted in RAND Arroyo Center's Strategy and Doctrine Program. The Arroyo Center is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the United States Army.

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