Will North Korea Collapse?

South Korean newspapers Korea Times, Chosun Ilbo, Dong A-Ilbo and Arirang News reported late last week that the Russian Institute of World Economy and International Relations opined in September that the Kim regime in North Korea will collapse and that "the North will no longer exist in its current form." The peninsula will then come under the control of the South, a result the Institute considers good for Russia. A different view is presented here.

The Institute appears to include many of the Russian elite and is run by the Russian government. According to a South Korean Foreign Ministry official, the report is "an official declaration by the Russian government of welcoming unification on the Korean Peninsula led by the South"

The report apparently is not yet available at the Institute's website, last updated on November 7.  According to the Arirang News article, the report says that

 the two Koreas' reunification will be accelerated by a power vacuum that will be created during the power transfer from current North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to his son Jong-un in the near future.

. . .  the power vacuum, which is expected to happen in [within?] ten years from now, would lead to power struggle between the North's elite bureaucrats and military personnel. While the two groups battle for the state's new leadership and identity, the report predicts that an interim North Korean government supported by the international community will be set up in [within?] two decades. (Emphasis added)

As noted at page 4 below, there are signs that such a power struggle is already starting.

The Arirang New article continues,

The report adds that the reunification of the two Koreas would serve Russia's national interests, saying that the stabilization of the Korean peninsula would benefit both the Russian economy and Russia's diplomatic relations.

According to the Dong Ah-Ilbo article, the Institute

also said in its recent report . . . “A provisional government capable of disarmament and modernization of the Stalinist country will likely be set up in the North in the 2030s to make full preparation for complete control by South Korea.” The report effectively forecast that the South will achieve reunification by absorbing the North in 10 years. (Emphasis added)

Dong Al-Ilbo comments,

Russia has shunned using the term "collapse" for the North, so it is unusual for the think tank, which helps devise Moscow’s foreign policy, to consider the collapse of the North as a fait accompli. This signals that either the North is showing abnormal signs that cannot be taken lightly or Russia is making a major change in its assessment of the North’s status. Moscow has apparently judged that the North is on a downward path toward collapse and that the path is rapidly narrowing.