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North Korea

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a country in East Asia, located in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering South Korea and China. Its capital, Pyongyang, is the country's largest city by both land area and population. It is a single-party state led by the Korean Workers' Party (KWP), and governed by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un since 2012. It has a population of 24,052,231 (UN-assisted DPRK census 2008) made up of Koreans and a smaller Chinese minority. Japan 'opened' Korea in 1876 and annexed it in 1910. The Republic of Korea (ROK) was founded with US support in the south in August 1948 and the Soviet-backed Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the north in September that year. 

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NORTH KOREA

US, China should agree buffer line in case North Korea collapses, report says

Rand Corp report urges China, US planning to avoid war if Kim Jong-un regime fails suddenly

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 September, 2013, 9:25am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 September, 2013, 2:18am
 

The United States should consider negotiating a separation line with China in a collapsed North Korea, a study said on Thursday, warning of catastrophic consequences if Kim Jong-Un’s regime suddenly falls.

The report by Rand Corp, a prominent US research institute, said that the crumbling of the totalitarian state could trigger a new, severe famine as well as a human rights crisis in a country that holds hundreds of thousands of prisoners.

The United States and its ally South Korea would almost certainly intervene, causing alarm in China, which is North Korea’s primary ally, the study said.

China, whose perceived interests include stemming the flow of refugees and preventing US forces from approaching its border, could also send troops into North Korea and risk a confrontation with US or South Korean forces that could quickly escalate, the report said.

“The best way to minimize such accidents is to define a separation line for Chinese forces versus [South Korean] and US forces,” the study said.

The line could be as far north as 50km into North Korea from the Chinese border or as far south as the capital Pyongyang, it said.

Bruce Bennett, the author of the study, acknowledged that the idea would be unpopular in South Korea and evoke the division of Germany after World War II.

The Korean peninsula itself has remained split since the 1950-53 war that pitted the United States and its Western allies against a pre-industrial China.

“Establishing a line like that is really not a good idea - it’s politically bad - but on the other hand, having a war with China is even worse, I think,” Bennett said.

“And so ultimately we may have to create a line that says the Chinese won’t go south, we won’t go north,” he said.

The United States and South Korea should coordinate with China on key priorities such as bringing food into North Korea and securing the country’s nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, the study said.

China, which may seek to support a faction of the former North Korean regime, should agree to withdraw forces eventually and allow reunification, likely under the auspices of a UN Security Council resolution, the Rand report said.

But UN resolutions can take time and it would be “far preferable” to agree with China on guidelines ahead of a North Korean collapse, it said.

Bennett said he researched the report due to concern that the key countries had not spoken enough to each other about what to do if the impoverished state implodes.

“Maybe the probability of a North Korean collapse in the next year is two per cent. That’s a dangerous two per cent,” he said.

“What’s the probability that your house burns? It’s probably not two per cent, it’s a lot less, but do you have fire insurance? I do,” he said.

The study did not try to predict a time for a North Korean collapse but expected the regime would fall eventually.

One of the likeliest scenarios for a collapse, according to the study, would be an assassination of Kim Jong-Un.

Kim, who replaced his late father Kim Jong-Il in December 2011, is believed to be in his late 20s and has not designated a successor.

The sudden loss of a central leader could lead to factions running North Korea, bringing anarchy and severely impeding food distribution, the study said.

Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans starved to death in the mid-1990s after the break-up of the Soviet Union ended a key source of aid.

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This article is now closed to comments

leon.davis.351
Seems to me Mr Bruce Bennett is writing about what he hopes will happen rather than what actually will. I could author a study predicting the consequences of a massive meteor wiping out Washington, DC, but what would that prove? First, why would anyone want to displace Marshal Kim Jong Un? What's the upside? Who benefits? Unless the new regime turned over the nukes and opened the border nothing would change. In my opinion, it's all about making money. DPRK elites want goods and services, just like anyone else in the world. The people are impatient for better food and consumer goods. That's what's driving the discussion in the DPRK at the moment. This is why Marshal Kim is making a full court press to build tourism. To bring hard currency into the country. Besides, Marshal Kim is very popular among common people. He's regarded as part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Things are very slowly getting better. If a group makes a move on Marshal Kim, they'd better have a good reason. At the moment, I just don't see one.
leon.davis.351
I respectfully disagree, my friend. If Mexico went belly up, the US surely wouldn't let Russia or China or France or anybody else into the country. For the same reason, China would never let the US north of the DMZ. Especially not the US under the militaristic Barack Obama who likes to export "democracy" at gunpoint. As far as your fears of WW3, that's just not going to happen. Maybe over Syria but not over the DPRK. I wouldn't at all doubt the US Pentagon and State Department have non-interference agreements with the PRC regarding the DPRK. No matter what happens, the US stays firmly south of the DMZ. A few years ago the Pueblo was towed from Wonsan on the east coast all the way around the peninsula, to Pyongyang on the west. The US could have easily taken their ship back in international waters but didn't. Probably because of those agreements.
mihao
I strongly believe China would rather seek an agreement directly with Seoul. Collapse of North Korea would inevitably push the unified Korea towards Beijing. China has both resources and guanxi to greately aid Seoul in restoring peace and order in the North - but surely for political price to pay.
Artline500
Why would the USA's military risk upsetting one of it's primary financiers? I don't understand what this study did with this little factoid. Did they just conveniently leave it out?
be.way.5
The Americans should just get lost from the Korean Peninsula irregardless of whether both Koreas are united or separated.
martin.su.127
The West promised Gorbachev that NATO would not expand into Eastern Europe. Guess what? The West lied.
...
China is not stupid enough to believe any Western promise. I guarantee the PLA will move its 2.3 million man army into a collapsed North Korea. By the way, China can mobilize another 300 million soldiers.
...
In 1953, the US Army was almost pushed into the sea by a primitive Chinese army. Only the threat of nuclear weapons by Eisenhower saved the U.S. army units. Today, China is fully mechanized and nuclearized (e.g. DF-3A IRBM, DF-5 "enhanced"/MIRVed ICBM, DF-31A ICBM, and DF-41 ICBM).
...
The old threat of nuclear weapons will not deter China this time around.

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