The Chosun Ilbo, a widely circulated South Korean paper, obtained a 480-page special report from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), Russia’s foremost national policy think tank. The report features five pages dedicated to the Korean Peninsula and included is an estimate that North Korea’s collapse is imminent, perhaps as soon as 2020. According to IMEMO, the 2012-2020 transfer of power from North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-il, to his son, Jong-un, will trigger the collapse of the North due to a leadership crisis. The end result is predicted to be a South Korean-led reunification of the peninsula. Over the next decade, the power struggle between “bureaucrats” with foreign business connections and “military and security officials” (with far fewer international connections) will result in an internationally supported South Korean absorption of the North. As the North’s military is disarmed, modernization will progress.

This is a surprising prediction for a top Russian think tank to publicly welcome a South Korean-led reunification when it is an “established theory” that Russia and other regional powers favor the “status quo in regards to the Korean Peninsula.” Yet, this report posits a Russia that now may view a reunified Korea as offering Moscow a “positive effect” in the Asia-Pacific Region.

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Chosun Ilbo