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Experts: Seoul’s capabilities, vision needed for reunification

Experts: Seoul’s capabilities, vision needed for reunification

Posted June. 14, 2013 06:14,   


South Korea’s previous Lee Myung-bak administration had plenty of "wishful thinking" on North Korea’s collapse. Lee Sang-hyeon, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute who served as a policy planning officer at the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry under the Lee administration, said, “In the event of an emergency situation in the North, how much actual authority will be mandated or transferred to the South Korean government is closely linked with the international community’s assessment of Seoul’s overall governing and administrative capabilities.” He noted that whether the South is capable of keep the North Korean areas under proper control and whether the international community will recognize such capabilities can be a yardstick that would determine the South’s takeover the areas north of the military demarcation line.

“In the event of an emergency situation in the North, South Korea should pursue multilateral intervention under the United Nations’ approval but seek ways to practically take leading roles,” the researcher said.

Namkung Young, a professor of political science at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, stressed that in order for South Korea to play leading roles in the reunification of the Korean Peninsula, it is important for Seoul to present a vision for reunification that the United States and China can agree to. “After all, what is necessary is to convince the U.S. and China that a reunified Korea will not be unfavorable to their strategic interest.” Namkung asserted that the basis of Seoul’s reunification diplomacy is South Korea-U.S. coordination and cooperation based on their bilateral alliance.

“While it is important to cooperate with China, South Korea should make it clear to China that in the event where the Seoul-Washington ties collide with the Seoul-Beijing relationship, Seoul will put the priority on its relations with Washington,” he said. “A lesson from the German reunification is that the steadfast support from the U.S. induced the participation by Britain, France and Russia (the Soviet Union at that time)."

Kim Tae-hyeon, a professor of political science at ChungAng University, said, “The South Korea-U.S. alliance will have to play the linchpin role preventing China’s overexpansion or North Korea’s irreversible nuclear armament from undermining the security order in Northeast Asia.” He said Seoul should convince Washington that a reunified Korea will contribute to peace and stability in Northeast Asia by promoting the common values of free markets and liberal democracy and positioning itself as a core partner for the U.S. in Northeast Asia.

Lee of the Sejong Institute said that in the event of an emergency situation in the North, the United States’ biggest interest will be in securing the North’s nuclear arsenals and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. “The U.S. will actively cooperate if it decides that a reunified Korea will make great contributions to complete scrapping of the North’s nuclear program.”