Demography of a Reunified Korea
January 30, 2013
At this time it is impossible to know when, or the conditions under which, North and South Korea might be reunified. This exploratory paper, though, analyzes the current demographic characteristics of the two countries and sets out potential scenarios given conditions that might exist during and following reunification. The South Korean government clearly prefers that an economic integration precede political integration; a complete collapse of the North Korean government is the least desired outcome. The demographic outlook for a unified peninsula will be closely tied with the pace and form of political and economic integration. For the purpose of this paper, it is assumed that the process will be gradual and peaceful, as desired by the South Korean government and the international community—what Holger Wolf has termed the “gradualist scenario.” While analysis to date has examined military, economic, and geopolitical dimensions of the reunification process and end state, it is also critical for planners and policymakers to understand the current and potential demographic dynamics of the peninsula.