March 01, 2012

Vital Venture: Economic Engagement of North Korea and the Kaesong Industrial Complex

By Patrick M. Cronin

The diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea this week re-establishes a baseline for future negotiations, but it has done nothing to fundamentally alter underlying security and economic problems on the peninsula, argues Dr. Patrick Cronin, Senior Advisor and Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). In Vital Venture: Economic Engagement of North Korea and the Kaesong Industrial Complex, released today by CNAS, Dr. Cronin contends that the diplomatic accord leaves in place an unsettling set of economic realities and trends on the peninsula and that "the United States must undertake a systematic strategic review of North Korea policy" for three primary reasons:

1.The short-term need for engagement, information and probing is more urgent than the longer-term goal of denuclearization and may ultimately better serve that outcome.

2.Engagement and probing are urgently needed to better understand North Korea's new leadership and to have even a chance of establishing a new chapter in U.S.-DPRK relations.

3.The U.S.-ROK agreement to prioritize denuclearization in North Korea policy may unravel following South Korea elections in 2012.

Dr. Cronin concludes that "Predicting the future of North Korea is a perilous task. Yet by mixing engagement with a serious review of national and alliance policy options for 2013 and beyond, the United States can minimize friction in its alliance with South Korea and retain leverage for shaping the future regional security environment."

Authors

  • Patrick M. Cronin

    Former Senior Advisor and Senior Director, Asia-Pacific Security Program

    Patrick M. Cronin is a former Senior Advisor and Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Previously, he was the ...

  • Commentary
    • January 22, 2020
    Challenging China’s Bid for App Dominance

    Social media platforms are emerging as central to China’s efforts to shape the global information architecture....

    By Kristine Lee & Karina Barbesino

  • Commentary
    • War on the Rocks
    • January 15, 2020
    Defense Strategy for a Post-Trump World

    In a recent piece warning about an emerging arms race in hypersonic missiles, The New York Times quoted Will Roper, the Air Force’s senior acquisition and technology official,...

    By Van Jackson

  • Reports
    • December 18, 2019
    Crossed Wires

    The United States’ current diplomacy with North Korea has enduring implications for its strategic competition with China....

    By Kristine Lee, Daniel Kliman & Joshua Fitt

  • Commentary
    • CNN Opinion
    • November 27, 2019
    Trump has three options with North Korea to avoid a dangerous perfect storm in Asia

    In the next few weeks, the Korean Peninsula will face a watershed moment -- one which could upend the United States' alliances in northeast Asia and regional stability as a wh...

    By Duyeon Kim

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia