North Korean Defense Conversion: New Opportunities for Inter-Korean Cooperation?
Kim Jong Un is committed to North Korea’s economic development and has prioritized this goal over military modernization. In the event a peace and security regime for the Korean Peninsula leads to North Korean agreement to reduce its conventional weapons and equipment, Kim may want to convert portions of the North’s defense industries to production of civilian goods. Re-purposing these facilities for civilian uses could give a boost to North-South normalization and reconciliation as well as present opportunities for closer North-South economic cooperation and possibly multinational participation in the conversion program. To date, Pyongyang and Seoul have not given much thought to cooperative North Korean defense conversion. But if inter-Korean relations move forward this subject could assume greater importance on their agenda for normalization and reconciliation.