Asan Plenum

Session: Session 6 / Regency Room
Date/Time: May 1, 2013 / 15:30-16:45

Panel Description

In the case of a North Korean collapse, the international community would suddenly be confronted with the monumental task of caring for 23 million malnourished and displaced North Koreans. This task would fall primarily upon the United Nations, South Korea and the United States, but also China. As we have observed in the Syrian civil war, however, state collapse may not necessarily be the short, decisive event that most expect. Depending on how the regime ends, the impact on the North Korean population will differ considerably. Many Chinese officials fear that, in fact, millions of North Koreans would instead head towards China where there are well-established networks and familiar contacts. Of course, it is safe to assume that both would happen, in addition to millions of people moving between towns and cities within North Korea itself. In what would be one of the largest stabilization operations in history, how would North Korea’s neighbors respond to the movements of millions in even the most benign collapse scenario?

Guiding Questions

  1. 1. What are the most widely accepted North Korean collapse scenarios and how do these cases incorporate population movements and refugee flows?
  2. 2. What are the country perspectives, policies and preparations for such scenarios?