Economic Cooperation with North Korea: Could It be Possible?

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2018 has been an important year for the Korean peninsula. With North Korea accepting South Korea’s invitation to the 2018 Winter Olympics and South Korea and the United States holding summits with North Korea, the era of President Obama’s strategic patience has arguably ended. As ties between North Korea and South Korea thaw, evidenced by the suspension of certain military exercises and the beginnings of the actual demilitarization of the DMZ, South Korea, under the Moon Administration, is looking into starting economic projects with North Korea. Specifically, the Moon Administration seeks to invest in North Korean infrastructure, such as roads and railways, so as to ease the cost on South Korea were a reunification with North Korea to happen, and so that South Korea can preserve the recent positive changes made in South-North Korean relationships. However, there are many barriers to an economic partnership between North and South Korea, the biggest arguably being United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, which imposed sanctions on North Korea in response to the North Korean October 2006 nuclear test. These sanctions ban North Korea from trading, not only in arms, nuclear technology, financial services, and fuel, but also seafood and textiles. Economic projects, especially those aimed at rebuilding North Korean infrastructure, could potentially violate those sanctions. Another barrier is the US’s current stance when it comes to dealing with North Korea. Despite the opening of a dialogue with North Korea, the US has insisted on strong sanctions against North Korea until it embraces denuclearization. As the US is not only a prominent player in international politics, but also plays a major role in...