Integration of DPRK nationals into ROK political system will be a major problem. At this moment, ROK grants citizenship to any DPRK nationals, and is believed to set no terms or limits on their political participation in ROK. Unification would involve a flood of newly enfranchised voters, potentially greatly upsetting the ROK political system if they were skewed toward one party or another.
A well thought out plan, perhaps with “quotas” for each party during the transition period, and only gradually introducing the franchise to former DPRK nationals may be required to ensure the stability of the ROK political system from a sudden influx of new voters. After waiting 70 years, what is wrong with waiting an additional 10 for a phased transition? The United State’s experience in admission of the State of Utah may be instructive here on how not to upset a political system.
Geopolitics will be a major problem. PRC and Russia have legitimate security concerns. It may be necessary to implement a deal whereby ROK forces in its present form is restricted from being deployed beyond the DMZ. Negotiated limits on lightly armed troops or border guards in the former DPRK borders with PRC and Russia is not an unreasonable limitation. But for such an arrangement, it is also not unreasonable for US, Japan, Russia, and PRC to guarantee ROK’s borders.
If ROK can have outstanding Koreans like Ban Ki-Moon serve as the Secretary General of the UN, surely there is scope for a brilliant solution to be created by Koreans that satisfy all great powers in the area.
Finally, there will be loose ends like ensuring that DPRK’s former “rocket scientists” and nuclear / chemical / biological weapons experts are gainfully employed by ROK, and tightly controlled to be sure they do not become a Korean “Khan network” of proliferators.
Winning the peace is something that Allies need to discuss seriously with ROK now as military options are being contemplated. America do not need another Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria. Allies need to leave nation building to Koreans!
The Korean war was a terrible tragedy. Let’s end it by facilitating Koreans creating a success that the international community will be proud of a century from now.
Danny Lam is a Senior Contributor to Warrior Maven
This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven.