I don’t know. Either option has major downsides. Letting NK implode sounds like the easy way out, but the South is mindful of Germany’s ongoing problems in incorporating a bankrupt ex-communist regime, and knows it doesn’t have the financial muscle of a confederation like the EU to back it up.
A military move may easily bring China back into the fight. Beijing’s increasingly tough stance against the West is not supported by the public but in part driven by it. I can see public opinion demanding that the US’s running dogs in the South be pushed back rather than be allowed to take over one of China’s staunchest allies, and as I said above, the last thing China wants is another democracy on it’s border, especially one with an American security guarantee.
I think the Chinese are likely to try and maintain the status quo and protect NK’s ability to do it’s own dirty work, like threatening Japan and giving the US another problem to worry about.
Meanwhile, China is miffed with S. Korea for being upset the North torpedoed their ship. Just like the attitude toward Taiwan; if you’d just stop complaining we’d all get along much better.[/quote]
I don’t see the American security guarantee continuing if North Korea implodes and is integrated into South Korea. The only reason we have troops there in the first place is because of the North Korean threat. After that threat is gone, the South Koreans (especially in Seoul) would want their prime real estate back. No threat = no need for an American presence. With the threat now there are protestors against the American forces there. Imagine what the protests will be like if there is no threat?
I think you’re spot on about the cost factor of integrating NK. Now I’m not quite sure how much help the EU has been in bridging the gap between former East Germany and West Germany. To me it seems that most of the money that would have been used to help the citizens located in former East Germany has been siphoned off to support profligate Greek politicians. However the point is valid that it’s expensive. The wealth disparity between the two Koreas is so vast that just bringing the North Koreans up to South Korean poverty level will be a challenge. God only knows how malnourished the average citizen is outside of Pyongyang. There will be serious health problems to deal with among 90% of the NK population. With all that though, the outcome of a war where NK is defeated is magnitudes worse than them imploding due to bickering over who the next Great Leader is.