Emerging Threats, Force Structures, and the Role of Air Power in Korea

By Natalie W. Crawford | Go to book overview

Chapter Three
GOING INTO THE “UNIFICATION TUNNEL”:
STRATEGIC AND MILITARY IMPLICATIONS
Dr. Yong-Sup Han

INTRODUCTION

As South Koreans watched the former Soviet Union disintegrate and East European communism collapse in the early 1990s, they were full of expectations that Korean unification would soon be realized. The anticipated collapse of North Korea and the unification of the Korean peninsula have yet to materialize.

Instead, North Korea has turned out to be too resilient to collapse. This phenomenon can be explained by the peculiar circumstances of North Korea and the unique situation on the Korean peninsula. But North Korea's capability as a state has shown steady decline, and unless Pyongyang manages to stave off collapse, Korean unification will continue to remain a clear possibility. Inducing unification, then, will hinge on policy and strategic measures.

A variety of issues will arise in the course of unification involving political, diplomatic, military, economic, social and cultural consequences. Although a majority of South Koreans see unification as an economic problem, it will be an even more serious military problem. The Korean peninsula is subject to an acute danger of warfare. Military tension is higher here than almost anywhere else in the world. Therefore, the most pressing issue will involve eliminating this state of military confrontation and successfully controlling any con-

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