November 5, 2011
On 3 November 2011, several South Korean media outlets have released articles highlighting research by the Russian Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), which contends Korean unification will occur by 2020.
The publication in question, Strategic Global Outlook: 2030, is prepared by a panel of experts with substantial experience in international issues. It presents forecasts based on economic and political trends, utilizing data and techniques unique to IMEMO, which distinguishes the research from comparable studies based solely on western accessed materials. Importantly, the study explores risks and challenges that key economic and political trends represent to Russia, providing insight into future Russian thinking in policy development.
IMEMO is a highly respected institute with a history dating back to 1925. It currently employs over 400 researchers. It has included amongst its staff such notables as former Foreign Minister I.S.Ivanov, former Ambassador and State Duma deputy V.Lukin, State Duma deputies E.Ambartsumov, V.Sheinis, A.Podberiozkin, N.Narochnitskaya; and political scientists I.Bunin, A.Migranian, M.Urnov, and V.Kuvaldin. Needless to say, research carried out by the organization carries a substantial weight amidst policy makers.
Of the 480 page report, only 5 pages refer to Korean peninsula issues. However their significance should not be underestimated. They suggest a collapse of North Korea soon after political succession from Kim Jong-Il to Kim Jong-Eun; a period of uncertainty and potential external intervention; and gradual absorption by South Korea.
The report also suggests the impact on the South Korean economy will be substantial in the early stages until recovery in the late 2020s. It further contends that this will ultimately lead to a three sided system in which a unified Korea is positioned alongside China and Japan.