The Chosun Ilbo and the Ilmin International Relations Institute at Korea University questioned 135 North Korea experts — 86 from overseas, including the U.S., China, Japan, Russia and Europe — and 49 from South Korea.
Almost half the experts predict that Kim Jong Un will consolidate his grip on power within the next three to five years, but about one-third predict he will face increasing internal instability. But the chances of a coup d’état or regime collapse are seen as slim.
Asked to guess how much longer the Kim Jong-un regime will last, over one-third said five to 10 years, and one-third 10 to 20 years.
Consequently about half expect reunification to happen in the next 10 to 20 years, and one-fifth between five to 10 years from now.
Most say that an internal power struggle in the North would be the most likely agent to trigger a regime collapse in the North. Only one-third see economic failure as a more likely cause, and very few a public uprising.
The majority of experts believe that the North Korean regime will press ahead with reforms at the same timid rate, while one-fifth expect them to speed up. Yet there is little confidence that the reforms will help improve the North Korean economy.
Almost half of the experts feel it is China rather than the U.S. that holds the key to improving the North Korean economy, while some believe Washington’s and Beijing’s policies will have an equal impact. About equal numbers forecast that North Korea’s economic dependency on China will remain the same or get worse.