Transporting Russian natural gas via pipeline through North Korea and into South Korea was highlighted at the forum “Trans-Korea Gas Pipeline Project: Enhancing Regional Cooperation” in Seoul last week. While regional tensions have sidelined the project for several decades, recent progress in North - South Korean relations have given the pipeline special urgency.
Still without an alignment of interests this capital intensive project will likely remain stalled:
The North is more interested in direct economic benefits than improved inter-Korean relations. On the other hand, the South expects a thaw in relations through the project as well as economic benefits in its energy sector. For its part, Russia appears to want to expand its influence on the Korean Peninsula alongside economic benefits.
As with all trans-boundary pipelines projects, this one certainly has the potential of fostering improved intrastate North South relations through a greater regional dynamic.