The following is an excerpt from an article titled Thinking the Unthinkable on North Korea written by Kang Hyun-kyung for The Korea Times.
Amid the prevailing pessimistic views about North Korea, among Korea observers, some have begun to think the unthinkable: the prospect of a unified, peaceful Korea. Their optimism ― if not confidence ― about a shared future for the two Koreas is based on the rational belief that there are several different ways to achieve unification. One of them is the mutual agreement of the two Koreas on such unification.
On top of dialogue and talks, retired Col. David Maxwell said there are three other paths to unification ― namely war, regime change and regime collapse ― stressing that peaceful unification is the most complex and difficult path to unify the two Koreas and "possibly the least likely one to occur because Kim Jong-un is unlikely to ever go quietly into the night."
"But it is the morally right path because we must seek to do it as peacefully as possible," Maxwell said during a speech to the International Forum on One Korea 2022 held at the Fairmont Ambassador Hotel in Seoul on Aug. 13 and 14. "However, even if war or regime collapse occurs, all the work done for peaceful planning will still have applicability in the unification process. Regardless of the path taken, planning for peaceful unification planning will provide the foundation for a free and unified Korea."
Maxwell is one of the dozens of experts who gathered in Seoul during the weekend to figure out ways to "make the impossible possible," as he put it. Also joining the two-day international forum were lawmakers, think tank experts, human rights activists and academics.
Also a senior fellow of the Washington D.C-based think tank, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Maxwell called for the active role of civil society, together with the governments of South Korea and the U.S., to make peace on the Korean Peninsula happen.
"I recommend the formation of civil society task forces that are willing to support the goal of a free and unified Korea," he said. "There is much work that can be done in long-term preparation for the future: humanitarian assistance, education, economic engagement, infrastructure development, political process integration and communications, just to name a few areas for consideration."