North and South Korea reunify under Seoul at the end of the Cold War

Let's say that, at the end of the cold war (to be more specific, sometime between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the USSR, maybe Kim il Sung's death at latest), North and South Korea manage to reunify under the Southern government. What would make this possible? What kind of effects would this have on geopolitics?
 
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No successor to Kim Il-sung would help. The reunification of North and South Korea would make the reunification of West and East Germany look like a minor soap btw.
 
South Korea immediately inherits the problems of the North. One of the reasons why the South does not want to reunify is because of the poverty and lack-of-education among the North Korean people that Seoul would have to shoulder the burden of. It would be an economic drain for the South.
 
What would make this possible?
It would be tricky. It could be the case that there is an opportunity because the DPRK communist regime collapses. But even then, the North Korean populace and whoever replaces the Kim regime would have to overcome 40 years of propaganda about how evil South Korea is to want reunification. It's more likely that the North Korean populace would make a break for China than ask for reunification.
 
Putting aside the fact that the South probably doesn't want this, it will not happen unless the Chinese Communists also fall, probably due to Tienanmen Square escalating to either a civil war or a rather peaceful regime change like most of Eastern Europe.
 
Plausibility aside, while the financial costs would be immense, a reunification could have the potential to alleviate some of the most pressing issues for both North and South.

For the North, they'd not only have access to international markets for the first time in decades, they'd actually have access to food and medicine, proper forestry, and a boom in industry. Southern Korea has the majority of the peninsula's arable land, which had disastrous consequences for the North since the end of the Korean War. Reunification would see the North actually have access to food and medicine, which would see their population actually grow. For forestry, lack of technology and infrastructure force many North Koreans to rely on wood burning for heat during winter. As a result, much of North Korea has been deforested, which makes landslides during storms more severe, reduces natural wildlife (which suffered from overhunting during famines), and reduces construction supplies, among other things. Reunification with the South and access to its electrical grid removes that as a factor. And for industry, the North has a large population that doesn't have higher education, is used to long hours, and has historically had low wages, plus it has something like $1 trillion in ores. Those combine to make it a potential industrial power. It is, however, hampered by lack of technology/expertise, infrastructure, and capital. All things the South has or can provide readily.

For the South, it would have access to a large, cheap labour force that already speaks their language, bountiful natural resources, and the potential to stop focusing everything on Seoul. While cultural integration would take time, having 25 million additional workers that speak Korean and have low wages would remove the need to outsource to other regions and speed up production. There's also many more potential farmers who can replenish the South's diminishing rural population. Natural resources have already been mentioned. And Pyongyang historically was a rival to Seoul in importance, being the capital of multiple Korean kingdoms and the biggest city in the North (rivaling Seoul in terms of population at times). It is also close to China, which was part of the reason Incheon exploded in importance after China eclipsed Japan as a trading partner for Korea, which in term saw Seoul completely dwarf Busan. And this ends up being beneficial since that means Seoul isn't the sole core of South Korea and housing prices don't go quite as insane. And that has knock-on effects for population growth, since lack of economic opportunity and high cost of living + housing are major reasons for South Korea's population decline (there's another issues, like lack of maternity rights and support, but that's unlikely to change in this scenario).

Of course, it's horrifically expensive (and the longer it doesn't' happen, the more expensive it becomes) and undoing generations of a cult of personality would take a generation or two to do in general. Plus, South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates among developed nations and North Koreans in South Korea tend to have a hard time integrating (hence redefectings, suicides, etc.). But after time and investment, reunification would've (and still would) see Korea explode economically and demographically and easily end up as one of the G8 (perhaps overtaking Japan as per https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB1253...hs_Has_a_Different_View_of_Korean_Unification).

The status quo for both countries is less than ideal, besides. North Korea is languishing under isolationism, with all the cultural, economic, and demographic consequences that entails, and South Korea is burning its population out, with estimates seeing its population decrease by 50% within 100 years just from lack of population growth. If current trends continue, the peninsula just ends up as a backwater again, its brief time in the spotlight extinguished for the foreseeable future.
 

CalBear

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How about this scenario. I don't think it's realistic for the past but it might be in the relatively near future.

Putin utterly fails in his bid to resurrect the U.S.S.R., and Russia crumbles into Balkanization. During this time, China takes back what the Czars stole from them around the US Civil War.China survives their current economic crises, but when China is at its weakest the North Koreans stand up to them and get into a fight. Maybe it's relatively minor like when the USSR and China almost started a war back around 1968, but with this the Chinese are finally completely sick of the North Korean Royal Family, occupies North Korea and executes the whole Royal Family and all their lackeys. They take North Korea's nukes and nuclear scientists and about anything vaguely useful to make an atomic bomb into China. The world stands up and applauds China. They have achieved regime change.
China then practically demilitarizes North Korea and lets it become the equivalent of East Germany, always run down Socialism but somehow not that bad a place to live in. The The North Korean people get food to eat and get educated in China and the North Korean economy starts moving again. Once North Korea had reached that level of development, China's economy stops teetering under the state controlled system and just busts. The Chinese people wake up and decide that they don't want finally wakes up a Communist country but an authoritarian capitalist country. With the economy in the toilet, they decide that North Korea isn't worth supporting and foist them on South Korea, the USA and Japan, figuring there's a sucker born every minute.
Current politics goes into CHAT.
 
Plausibility aside, while the financial costs would be immense, a reunification could have the potential to alleviate some of the most pressing issues for both North and South.

For the North, they'd not only have access to international markets for the first time in decades, they'd actually have access to food and medicine, proper forestry, and a boom in industry. Southern Korea has the majority of the peninsula's arable land, which had disastrous consequences for the North since the end of the Korean War. Reunification would see the North actually have access to food and medicine, which would see their population actually grow. For forestry, lack of technology and infrastructure force many North Koreans to rely on wood burning for heat during winter. As a result, much of North Korea has been deforested, which makes landslides during storms more severe, reduces natural wildlife (which suffered from overhunting during famines), and reduces construction supplies, among other things. Reunification with the South and access to its electrical grid removes that as a factor. And for industry, the North has a large population that doesn't have higher education, is used to long hours, and has historically had low wages, plus it has something like $1 trillion in ores. Those combine to make it a potential industrial power. It is, however, hampered by lack of technology/expertise, infrastructure, and capital. All things the South has or can provide readily.

For the South, it would have access to a large, cheap labour force that already speaks their language, bountiful natural resources, and the potential to stop focusing everything on Seoul. While cultural integration would take time, having 25 million additional workers that speak Korean and have low wages would remove the need to outsource to other regions and speed up production. There's also many more potential farmers who can replenish the South's diminishing rural population. Natural resources have already been mentioned. And Pyongyang historically was a rival to Seoul in importance, being the capital of multiple Korean kingdoms and the biggest city in the North (rivaling Seoul in terms of population at times). It is also close to China, which was part of the reason Incheon exploded in importance after China eclipsed Japan as a trading partner for Korea, which in term saw Seoul completely dwarf Busan. And this ends up being beneficial since that means Seoul isn't the sole core of South Korea and housing prices don't go quite as insane. And that has knock-on effects for population growth, since lack of economic opportunity and high cost of living + housing are major reasons for South Korea's population decline (there's another issues, like lack of maternity rights and support, but that's unlikely to change in this scenario).

Of course, it's horrifically expensive (and the longer it doesn't' happen, the more expensive it becomes) and undoing generations of a cult of personality would take a generation or two to do in general. Plus, South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates among developed nations and North Koreans in South Korea tend to have a hard time integrating (hence redefectings, suicides, etc.). But after time and investment, reunification would've (and still would) see Korea explode economically and demographically and easily end up as one of the G8 (perhaps overtaking Japan as per https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB1253...hs_Has_a_Different_View_of_Korean_Unification).

The status quo for both countries is less than ideal, besides. North Korea is languishing under isolationism, with all the cultural, economic, and demographic consequences that entails, and South Korea is burning its population out, with estimates seeing its population decrease by 50% within 100 years just from lack of population growth. If current trends continue, the peninsula just ends up as a backwater again, its brief time in the spotlight extinguished for the foreseeable future.
I wonder how much outside Korea money can be pulled into the reunification effort, The USA doesn't have to station forces in Korea any more, and Japans defense concerns are lessened, they probably can contribute.

China's attitude about his matters also, i.e. how much does unified Korea have to worry about defending the Yalu???, and how much economic exchange goes on across.
 
South Korea immediately inherits the problems of the North. One of the reasons why the South does not want to reunify is because of the poverty and lack-of-education among the North Korean people that Seoul would have to shoulder the burden of. It would be an economic drain for the South.
South Korea was already in kind of a tough spot around the 1990s and North Korea would be dire straits, but not cracked by the famine. If this is done by the push of someone against the cult of personality and so on, or perhaps a part of Il-Sung’s final wishes, it would be possible. Still really hard, but the gap between the North and South isn’t as big as present day. Would have to take in alot of outaide investment and I could see foreign companiws and even moreso South Korean companies and try and go for the North for sorta-cheap labor as they “de-Kimify”. China would very much insist on no more US military presence, and Clinton may abide by that, albeit also from getting own restrictions from China.

China would likely lean on using soft power over on the unified Korea and they’re smart enough to go for the long game of influence, especially on how economics go and so on. Over time, Korea will begin picking itself up and focusing on not relying as much on the outside world or at least careful on the political game.

A (mostly) neutral unified and stable Korea will be less pressure on the US on the international front while China will be slightly less anxious though I suspect they may try and get a semi-puppet ruler in if Xi Jinpeng takes power and teiws to put in his own Luoshenko
 
Otl during the Asian economic crisis the south Korean government asked the people to invest in government bonds to finance the country and the koreans sold in mass jewelry items to raise money to buy such bonds so Atl the government could count on the south koreans to invest in the uplifting of their northern brethren.
Asian societies are less individualistic and koreans are a single ethnographic group divided by politics and only since the 50's.
The south Korean conglomerates would invest massively in the north taking advantage of the commodities and cheap labor and a situation of a single country moving at different speeds in the north and south is plausible enough, east germans didn't become as wealthy as the western ones automatically, so a lengthy transition would occur and the fact that the north koreans are used to obey would facilitate the process.
 
Some probable scenarios I have come across sometimes have been like this: following Khrushchev's secret speech denouncing Stalin in 1956, Kim Il Sung is removed or purged from his post and is replaced by a more moderate and pragmatic leader who is pro-Moscow. In other words, he favors reform in politics, the KPA, the economy and daily life for NK. Eventually, the DPRK becomes more of a Far East version of the DDR or even Bulgaria and is accepted into COMECON. Other changes also include the free use of cross-border broadcasting by ROK radio and TV into the north and the average North Korean follows them with no problem (similar to East Germans in OTL). Still, by 1988, the NK economy is behind the South and even Japan and China. For the first time in the North's history, opposition parties are allowed to form and vote for a true national assembly. There is a referendum on both sides on Korean reunification and is overwhelmingly voted in favor of it. The final unification and peace treaty is signed by both sides in Seoul with the US, UN Command, Russia, Japan, and China observing. It is agreed that Seoul be the permanent capital of the United Republic of Korea with Pyongyang as its legislative capital. The US also agrees to reduce its military presence to a minimum and just maintain a token presence just to show the flag. The Americans also agree to a neutral zone in the Yalu River border region facing the PRC in order to not annoy the Chinese with a US military presence in the area. When the clock strikes midnight on 31 December 1989, there is a new Korea and also party time in Seoul and Pyongyang!
 
Since it would happen before the 90s famine means that while north korea would be relatively poor it wouldn't have the absolute povity it currently has.

While there would be a bit of a cultural gap there are a couple of things that would help paper over it such as the failure of the north would probably damage Kim's reputation in the eyes of allt of northerners, the fact that ther would still be older people around who remember a united korea and have family on the other side plus the fact south korea only recently democratised a couple of years before would probably help make it feel like a joint venture and not just the south taking over the north
 

ahmedali

Kicked
South Korea immediately inherits the problems of the North. One of the reasons why the South does not want to reunify is because of the poverty and lack-of-education among the North Korean people that Seoul would have to shoulder the burden of. It would be an economic drain for the South.
In fact, North Korea has more mineral wealth and resources than the South and the North Koreans are completely educated on the same level as the South

The problem is the Kim dynasty and also that people are very ideological there
 
It would be tricky. It could be the case that there is an opportunity because the DPRK communist regime collapses. But even then, the North Korean populace and whoever replaces the Kim regime would have to overcome 40 years of propaganda about how evil South Korea is to want reunification. It's more likely that the North Korean populace would make a break for China than ask for reunification.
Giving everyone in the north some choco pies would probably allay any all fears of the south by the north
 
In fact, North Korea has more mineral wealth and resources than the South and the North Koreans are completely educated on the same level as the South

The problem is the Kim dynasty and also that people are very ideological there
Never heard that before on the education, do you have a reliable source?
 
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