The Korea Project is an ambitious, multi-year research project jointly organized by the USC Korean Studies Institute and the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The Project focuses on those inevitable problems that will emerge from reunification on the Korean peninsula. Although traditionally viewed in military terms, collapse and subsequent reunification of the Korean peninsula will in fact raise a wide variety of issues, such as environmental degradation, legal and judicial issues, public health and migration, and social dislocation. Such issues will affect not only South Korea but also surrounding countries such as China, Russia, Japan, and the United States.
The Korea Project is non-governmental and non-partisan. It brings together world-renowned functional experts and pairs them with Korea experts based in the ROK and US to form “unification teams” to think innovatively about their issue-area, such as transitional justice, social security, health, environment, energy and other state-building issues related to unifying the peninsula. The synergies created within and among these teams are opening up new and important avenues to think about unification.
Most “Track 2” level and government work is focused on the immediate crisis of a North Korea collapse and military contingencies and planning. This work is necessary and important, and indeed, with a new leader in North Korea, governments are now coming around to the urgency of the situation and appear to be giving much more attention to planning for such a contingency. However, there is far less work focused on those longer-term but inevitable tasks of knitting the two nations together into one. Governments do not have the time or resources to plan for possibilities that may occur far in the future, even if they are aware that such an eventuality in unavoidable. The Korea Project seeks to complement existing research and to fill this important and under-researched gap.