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Issues & Insights Vol. 19, CR6: Weighing Future Paths for the Korean Peninsula

In April 2019, Pacific Forum hosted the Northeast Asia Regional Young Leaders Security Symposium (NEARYLSS), a two-day dialogue in Tokyo, Japan, during which 25 young scholars and security analysts from China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and the United States explored regional security perspectives and opportunities for multilateral cooperation. Forming teams based on nationality, young scholars identified their country’s top regional threats in Northeast Asia and their desired, acceptable, and unacceptable outcomes for the Korean Peninsula.

The shared challenge of dealing with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) provides a basis for regional cooperation, and the extent to which each team’s desired, acceptable, and unacceptable outcomes converge serves as a useful guide in determining possible scenarios on the Korean Peninsula. During off-the-record plenary discussions, country teams explained the rationale for their assessments and answered follow-up questions from other country teams. Team responses were then compiled into a win-set (Figure 1). Notable convergences and divergences observed in the win-set and plenary discussions were identified around three key themes: denuclearization, Korean reunification, and the status quo of intermittent negotiations.