As a part of its Great Decisions Lecture Series, the Foreign Policy Association organized a lecture on “The Prospects for Korean Reunification” at the Zicklin School of Business of Baruch College on February 17, 2016.
The lecture forum was paneled by Dr. Patrick M. Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, Ambassador Gheewhan Kim, Consul General of the Republic of Korea in New York, and Mr. Scott A. Snyder, senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the program on US-Korea policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. The discussion was moderated by Evans Revere, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and former President of Korea Society.
North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and long-range missile test in February. The panelists discussed the implications of North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities and avenues available for denuclearization.
Dr. Cronin stressed the need for stronger sanctions. He argued that the international community should do more to curb North Korea’s finances.
That line of thinking was mirrored in the actions of the Korean government, who had suspended the Gaesong Industrial Complex the week before the discussion. Ambassador Kim stated that “70% of the money financed North Korean leader’s projects, including nuclear and missile programs.”
Panelists also discussed various international reactions to North Korea’s nuclear weapons. China’s relations with North Korea have deteriorated, in which Ambassador Kim noted that “82% of Chinese people think of North Korea as a burden to China.” Other countries, such as the US, Japan, and the European Union, have passed tough sanctions in the wake of nuclear and missile tests.
The discussion then focused upon the reunification of the Korean peninsula. Dr. Cronin believed that unification is possible without inciting a major regional war via regime change through either a natural death or through a coup. The possibility of the North Korean regime collapsing has been considered more frequently as compared to prior years.
Mr. Snyder compared the situation on the Korean peninsula with the peaceful German reunification, noting that the current situation is much more difficult. He stressed that Kim Jong-un realizing nuclear weapons pose a larger threat to his regime would be the only way for North Korea to go back to the negotiation table.
Unified Korea, according to Dr. Cronin, has the potential to become a global power as one of top 10 economies in the world. Ambassador Kim noted that the future role of a unified Korea would undoubtedly “play many active and constructive roles in the region.”
This event is featured as a part of “A Korea in New York,” as it aligns with the purpose of the initiative by the Korean Consulate.
“A Korea in New York” is our collective slogan for 2016 that encompasses our aims to promote Korean contents to the communities in New York and the surrounding areas. We want to proactively share these elements in a way that best contributes and gives back to our neighboring communities as well as the entire US.
“A Korea in New York” means:
1. Promoting ONE IMAGE of Korea through partnerships.
2. BRINGING KOREA CLOSER to New Yorkers and beyond by vitalizing Korean culture in the United States, facilitating community cooperation, and creating shared values.
3. Sharing an AUTHENTIC, YET CREATIVE Korea, maintaining tradition while embracing new creative fields; creation of a set of best practices to be used and spread globally.