ICAS Event: Peter Beck on "The Cost of Korean Unification"

Friday, October 1, 2010
7:00 p.m. (Talk will start at 7:30 p.m.)
TUJ Azabu Hall 206/207 (Access)
Peter Beck
Robert Dujarric, Director, ICAS
Free. Open to general public.
RSVP is now closed


Korean unification is unlikely to occur in the near future, but the North’s collapsed economy and failed leadership in the context of a vibrant South Korea on its doorstep means that it is a question of “when,” not “if.” The total cost of unification will be in the trillions of dollars, which means we must prepare for this eventuality now. Moreover, several optimistic reports notwithstanding, unification is unlikely to be gradual or smooth.

While a North Korean implosion is more likely, we cannot rule out the possibility of an explosion (military conflict), which would push the cost of unification (to say nothing about the human tragedy) closer to $10 trillion. Learning from the German experience will help minimize the cost. It is also important to examine the reaction and role of the major powers in the region to the reunification process. China and Japan are the most opposed to a unified Korea, but once the process begins, they will have little choice but to contribute to picking up the pieces in the North.

About the Speaker

Peter M. Beck is a Council on Foreign Relations / Hitachi International Affairs Fellow in Japan. Prior to moving to Tokyo, he was the Pantech Research Fellow at the Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University. He has also taught at Ewha University in Seoul, served as executive director of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea and directed the International Crisis Group's Northeast Asia Project in Seoul. He was also the director of research and academic affairs at the Korea Economic Institute. He has served as a member of the Ministry of Unification's Policy Advisory Committee and as an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown and Yonsei universities. He holds a BA from the University of California at Berkeley and ABD from the University of California at San Diego.

About ICAS
The Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS) is an organization dedicated to fostering study and research on various topics related to contemporary Japan and Asia.

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