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The Collapse of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea: A Multilateral Approach to Northeast Asia

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Research paper

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Since the early 1990s the DPRK has faced a prolonged period of adversity resulting from a combination of natural catastrophes and failed state policies. The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the death of Kim-Il Sung in 1994, provoked many acrimonious debates among experts over when North Korea NK will cease to exist. The famine in 1997, claiming millions of lives, as well as devastating floods in 2007, have perpetuated these discussions, making the prospect for a collapse perhaps greater now than in any time in its history. Based on the German reunification model in the early 1990s, many studies have focused on what a DPRK collapse would mean to the region, to include the future of a unified Korea. While the main emphasis of these works is typically reunification, this research paper spotlights the concept of regional multilateralism in managing a DPRK collapse. In doing so, this study sets out to address the following questions First, why is multilateral engagement so difficult to execute in Northeast Asia, and what are the dynamics involved Second, does a collapse of the DPRK government necessarily result in immediate reunification, and how does this affect the application of multilateralism Finally, what are the implications to U.S. interests in the region, and what recommended courses should it consider This paper begins with a twentieth century look at multilateralism in East Asia by examining a wealth of expert historical and contemporary analysis. Next, a potential multilateral framework is presented with an analysis of the associated benefits and complexities related to the concept. The key issue of reunification is also revealed, specifically whether a DPRK government collapse would equal immediate reunification. Finally, this study concludes with a look at the implications of using multilateralism in dealing with this crisis to future U.S.

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  • Government and Political Science

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