Special Lecture by Gerard ROLAND (UC Berkeley)
The Peace Process in Korea and Economic Prospects for North Korea

2018.06.28 16:00 - 18:00

On June 28th, Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies hosted a Special Lecture entitled, “The Peace Process in Korea and Economic Prospects for North Korea”, inviting Prof. Gerard Roland of University of California, Berkeley. The lecture provided an opportunity to hear Prof. Roland’s observations on the current peace process on the Korean Peninsula and prospects for North Korean economy. Attended by more than two hundred people, the event also included a discussion with a renowned professor in the field of North Korean economy, Prof. Kim Byung-yeon of Seoul National University.

Prof. Roland started his presentation by introducing strategic interests of North Korea, China, South Korea, the United States, Japan and Russia respectively. Prof. Roland argued that Kim Jong-un’s main objective is to secure peace agreements and develop its economy by lifting sanctions. According to Prof. Roland, a nuclear North Korea poses a security threat to not only China but to North East Asia as a whole. Therefore, China has interest in maintaining peace process even if North Korea does not really denuclearize, in order to prevent further nuclear proliferation. Also, it is in China’s interest to integrate North Korean economy through trade and aid in order to stabilize North Korean regime and make it more economically dependent on China. Prof. Roland stated that from the South Korea’s perspective, its strategic interest is to coexist peacefully with China, eliminate North Korean regime, reunify Korea in a prosperous market economy and enhance its economic role in Asia. Prof. Roland said that the United States has less interest in peace process than do China and South Korea. Instead, the United States has interest in eliminating North Korean regime which is hostile to the United States interests in Asia. Also, he mentioned that Japan would consider acquiring nuclear weapons without denuclearization in North Korea and that Russia is mostly interested in weakening the United States in Northeast Asia. Regarding North Korea nuclear conundrum, Prof. Roland suggested that the best policy is to engage in intense diplomacy with North Korean regime and to insist on CVID (complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization) before lifting the sanctions.

From Prof. Roland’s point of view, North Korea seems to be closer to the Soviet model rather than to the Chinese model in that the informal economy of North Korea is eroding the formal economy, which should lead to gradual erosion of the state apparatus and eventually to a regime collapse. He mentioned that the Central Asian scenario is a possibility for North Korea, but this requires opening up, which is difficult with the sanctions. Introducing Chinese economic success through special economic zones (SEZ), he suggested the idea of building multiple SEZs in North Korea. Such investment will increase external dependency of North Korean regime and could increase South Korea’s leverage over North Korean regime.

Prof. Roland emphasized that the continued economic sanctions are currently the only correct policy to weaken the regime although regime collapse remains uncertain. He also reinforced how diplomatic dialogue became inevitable as it became clear that North Korea is a nuclear state, and that the dialogue must continue. Lastly, Prof. Roland asserted that North Korea economy would face brighter prospects after regime collapse and unification.

The lecture was followed by a discussion session with Prof. Kim Byung-yeon of Seoul National University, leading to an intense examination of realistic possibility of North Korea’s denuclearization and prospects for North Korean economic development.

Gerard ROLAND, KIM Byung-yeon

Lectures and Topics

  • Speaker: Gerard ROLAND,


  • Discussant: KIM Byung-yeon, Seoul National University