Future of two Koreas under President Moon.
President Moon's approach toward meeting North Korean leaders with no conditions attached might imply that he accepts the status of the nuclear weapons that the North possesses.
What could follow depends largely on future leaders of South Korea who succeed Moon. Assuming that the policy of accepting nuclear weapons in the North as given continues in large part through future presidents of the South, I can see the following progression in relations between the two Koreas.
If South Korea officially decides to accept North Korea as a nuclear state, Washington and Pyongyang will negotiate in such way to also accept the North as a nuclear power but will accept a promise of the North to make a symbolic reduction in nuclear weapons as well as to move the target of these weapons away from the United States. This agreement, if reached, may help lift some of the harsh sanctions currently in effect.
The negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea may also lead to the withdrawal of the majority of U.S. troops from South Korea, leaving the security of the South largely, if not entirely, to South Korea.
The probability of military confrontation between the two Koreas will be very low, not because leaders of North Korea suddenly desire peace, but because leaders of South Korea will give in to demands from North Korea; maybe not all but most of them anyway.
Initial demands will be moderate. The Gaeseong Industrial Complex will open again and group tours to Mount Geumgang will begin under the name of economic cooperation.
Broadcasting by use of large speakers at the DMZ will stop under the name of the peace overture. The North will demand the return of North Korean defectors back to the North, but accept the status quo since it can be a deal breaker.
Economic cooperation between the two Koreas and economic assistance from the South to the North will slowly but steadily increase, mostly under the name of humanitarian assistance. South Korea effectively becomes the cash cow to North Korea.
There will be new candlelit demonstrations led by the young who will have to assume the bulk of the financial burden coming from the new relationship between the two Koreas.
China and Japan will feel increasingly antsy over the close inter-Korean ties. Although trade between China and North Korea will continue to grow, South Korea will replace China as the most important trade partner of the North.
Likewise, Japan will feel uneasy about the likely stronger voice that is coming from the Korean Peninsula. In addition, the role of South Korea in the Pacific alliance with the U.S. will weaken, making Japan more exposed to threats from China.
The images of war will gradually disappear from the minds of people in both Koreas.
There is a huge unknown variable that no one can predict will happen and how it will happen if it does. The variable is the possibility of implosion within North Korea.
There are several issues related to implosion. If there is an implosion and new leaders in North Korea ask for help from the South, what will South Korea do? Obviously, this will be a dangerous time because horrible bombs are everywhere. More importantly, this will be the historic chance for the two Koreas to be unified.
Even more importantly, what will happen if China sends over 50,000 soldiers to North Korea under the pretense of securing its nuclear weapons?
China should not intervene in internal Korean affairs, but we all know China will, unless the military of South Korea is strong enough to counter Chinese forces and North Korea is willing to fight to keep Chinese soldiers from crossing the Yalu River.
By now the message of this article is clear: The danger of a military confrontation between the two Koreas will be lowered. However, there will be a massive transfer of wealth from the South to the North as the price of securing the unsettling peace.
When the demands from the North turn out to be political, diplomatic and military in nature, new turmoil and crises will erupt in the South over how long and how much of the increasingly excessive demands from the North should be accepted.
Now you have an idea of what could happen if President Moon's policy is to be followed through with. I am not sure whether this outcome is better or worse than the current approach of sanctioning North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons. Maybe readers are.