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`North Korea`s collapse has begun.`

Posted November. 05, 2011 00:51,   


A Russian state-run think tank says the collapse of North Korea "is accelerating” and the North will "no longer exist in its current form in the 2010s.” The Institute of World Economy and International Relations also said in its recent report “Korea: Transformation and Reunification Scenarios,” “A provisional government capable of disarmament and modernization of the Stalinist country will likely be set up in the North in the 2030s to make full preparation for complete control by South Korea.” The report effectively forecast that the South will achieve reunification by absorbing the North in 10 years.

Russia has shunned using the term "collapse" for the North, so it is unusual for the think tank, which helps devise Moscow’s foreign policy, to consider the collapse of the North as a fait accompli. This signals that either the North is showing abnormal signs that cannot be taken lightly or Russia is making a major change in its assessment of the North’s status. Moscow has apparently judged that the North is on a downward path toward collapse and that the path is rapidly narrowing.

Forecasts of North Korea’s collapse are not new. With the successive collapses of communist countries in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s, the death of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung in 1994, and massive floods and food shortages befalling the North, the West foresaw the collapse of the Stalinist country. After surviving severe famine in the late 1990s, Pyongyang looked to be reviving on the back of improved inter-Korean relations, but its leader Kim Jong Il suffered a stroke. The Stalinist country’s third-generation hereditary power transfer is also seen as going through rough times.

Even if the North collapses soon, few will be surprised since it is a failed country that cannot feed its people due to its refusal to open and reform itself. The beginning of the North’s collapse is the prelude to reunification of the Korean Peninsula. Aside from preparing for gradual and staged reunification, the South should brace for a sudden change in the North. No less urgent is to persuade China and Russia that a unified Korea will be beneficial for Northeast Asian peace and stability of the two countries.

On the emergence of a South Korea-led reunification, the Russian think tank correctly said, “This will have a positive impact on Russia’s standing in the Asia-Pacific region.” The left-leaning Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations of South Korea banned discussion on a sudden change in the North for fear of provoking Pyongyang. Preparation for reunification cannot be done by suppressing public discussion, however, as the rise in the number of North Korean defectors shows that their country has begun imploding.