Summing up, despite a remarkable growth in its economic, political and military standing over the past several decades, South Korea falls short of a great power. This becomes clear if one compares the Republic of Korea with some second-tier great power, such as France. South Korea loses out to France on all key measures. Population-wise, there are 49 million South Koreans versus 66 million French. South Korea’s GDP of 1.6 trillion USD is overshadowed by France’s 2.2 trillion. In military-strategic terms, the crucial difference between Seoul and Paris is France’s ability to independently provide for its security, which is underpinned by the French nuclear arsenal.…
The reunification of the North and the South, both possessing formidable armed forces, will certainly increase Korea’s military-strategic weight. The most intriguing question is whether the new Korea keeps the DPRK’s nuclear legacy.
Russia and Korea have never experienced bitter conflicts and disputes. The only thing Russia should be worried after the unification is the risk of losing up to 200,000 ethnic Koreans who now live in the country. Most of them are hard-working and entrepreneurial people. Their massive migration to their historical homeland would be a great loss to Russia.
For a long time, Korea was a pawn, often a victim, caught in great powers’ rivalry. Now it has a chance to acquire a great power rank for itself. Whether this chance is realized depends partly on the other major powers, but largely on the Koreans themselves.