Like the collapse of the Berlin Wall, there will be subtle hints it might happen, but when it does happen - it will be sudden, shocking, and will mark a firm moment when the security situation in that part of the world drastically changes.
Over at SmallWarsJournal, David S. Maxwell outlines four possible causes of a NORK collapse and subsequent reunification.
Unification of Korea is the only acceptable outcome on the Korean Peninsula. It is the only condition that will solve three of the most intractable problems in Northeast Asia: (1) the Kim family regime’s nuclear threat; (2) the human rights atrocities and crimes against humanity that have been perpetrated on the Korean people living in the north each and every day for the past six decades; and (3) the achievement peace and prosperity in the region. It is only through unification described as “a stable, secure, peaceful, economically vibrant, non-nuclear peninsula, reunified under a liberal constitutional form of government determined by the Korean people,” that can bring security and stability to Northeast Asia.Which one? Hard to say. That is for the Koreans to figure out - but one of the four will happen.
There are four paths to unification: peaceful, internal regime change, regime collapse, and war.
Communism can only exist in isolated islands in today's world, but the decay that eventually led to its downfall everywhere else will eventually take place in NORK as well. It will just takes longer. That is why you only have hard communism in places like NORK ... and to a lesser extent, Cuba.
One of those four is coming. Next week? Next month? Next year? Next decade?
There is one point of Maxwell's I do have issue with,
It is time to take a professional approach to supporting a resistance in the north.Sure ... but let South Korea do that.
The West in general, and the USA in particular, has a horrible record of trying to understand and get in front of the Asian mind. The best thing we can do is to let South Korea know that we will support them ... as long as they do not initiate the Worst Case COA - war.
We should also, whether South Korea likes it or not, keep an open dialog with China on this topic. Hopefully we have already outlined options at the high levels on all four scenarios with them. China has very legitimate security issues in Korea, and we should respect that. Ditto Russia - and on the tail in one the BCC line, Japan.
One wildcard here; the NORK military. They will know all too well what happened to the East German military, especially its senior military leaders, after unification. They may not want to work in an noodle stand.