In This Review

Avoiding the Apocalypse: The Future of the Two Koreas
Avoiding the Apocalypse: The Future of the Two Koreas
By Marcus Noland
Institute for International Economics Press, 2000, 431 pp.

One of the most dramatic events of 2000 was the cordial summit of the two Kims of North and South Korea, the fruits of South Korean President Kim Dae Jung's "sunshine policy" that has thawed the half-century-long freeze. Greater economic, cultural, family, and political contact was tentatively agreed on, but no one knows where it will lead. Noland looks ahead to potential unification and to several possible intermediate points. He summarizes well what limited information is available on the reclusive northern hermit nation and analyzes skillfully both the economic benefits and the political risks of opening up the North Korean economy. Drawing on the unification of Germany, he maps out the lessons for South Koreans (and others) should they need to respond quickly to their northern neighbor's collapse. He sees tremendous difficulties in North Korea due to 50 years of systematic mismanagement under communist rule. But imminent collapse is unlikely as long as Pyongyang plays its cards skillfully -- as it has been doing -- and as long as China fears the unknown alternatives more than the current (albeit unpalatable) regime.