How unstable do you think the current situation on the Korean peninsula is? Do you think there will be war, or is this just a political stunt by the North?


4 Answers

Yo Kass Profile
Yo Kass answered

I believe the latest threats, including calls to "break the waists of the crazy enemies and totally cut their windpipes", is part of North Korea's continued military brinkmanship. Their main aim is to carve a better position for themselves to bargain from during political and economic negotiations.

However, I think it's important to acknowledge that playing such dangerous games can sometimes have very serious (and often unintended) consequences.

Is North Korea preparing for war?

Probably not. Despite all the fuss made about North Korea's potential nuclear threat, I don't think anyone really believes that they are capable of mounting a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile - let alone reaching the US with it.

Considering the increased US missile-defense presence in the area, I'm not even sure how effective a North Korean aerial campaign against South Korea or Japan would be.

So why all the photos of Kim Jong-un posing in front of maps charting missile courses leading to the US mainland?

There are several theories:

  • It's a response to the latest round of joint US-South Korean military exercises and economic sanctions.
  • Kim Jong-un is trying to establish himself and gain some credibility among North Korea's generals and military leaders.
  • This is a test of newly elected first-ever female South Korean president Park Geun-hye
So why the worried faces?
Just because North Korea wouldn't benefit from going to war right now, that doesn't mean it might not accidentally happen.
  • North Korea has carried out 3 nuclear tests in recent months.
  • They've restarted a plutonium-producing reactor.
  • The armistice with the South has officially been broken.
  • A shared North-South industrial zone on the border between the two countries has been closed down (something that hasn't happened in any other standoffs)
Kim Jong-un has probably ordered all these moves in an attempt to prove himself to his people and his generals. He wants them to know that he means business.
What I'm worried about is that, like a little brother that keeps annoying his older sibling until he lashes out, Kim Jong-un might be veering dangerously close to retaliation from the South.
South Korea has, up till now, remained fairly reserved in their approach to the North's antics.
They held back when North Korea sank one of their submarines, killing more than 40 people. And it's hard to think of any other country that would have "cooled off" in the same way South Korea did when missiles were hurled at the disputed island of Yeonpyeong.
What I fear is that, if the US-South Korean alliance does actually decide to ramp up their response, this will humiliate Kim Jong-un.
In a culture where public standing, honor and respect are highly valued - all it would take is one loss of face for an insecure and inexperienced leader to lose his cool and make a fatal mistake.
Just look at Bashar Al-Assad of Syria: When he took over after the death of his father, many Western governments courted him, beleiving he was a progressive leader that could lead the Middle East into a more prosperous future.
However, when political unrest sparked up mass protests - the inexperienced Bashar found himself simply following the demands of his family and his father's military generals.
Rather than taking a rational and diplomatic approach, he decided to butcher more than 70,000 people and turn the country into a warzone.
The same thing could happen in North Korea. If the US tries to call Kim Jong-un's bluff, this could provoke a response from North Korea, even if it's the last  thing the reclusive country needs.

2 People thanked the writer.
Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson commented
Hi Kass, this just about says it all, but as you point out a couple of times, he may be fighting for credibility amongst the NK establishment which of course is invisible to us. The visible can be measured against the past, and doesn't look too startling, but we can only guess at the pressure he is under and what may happen if he fails - if there is a cause for concern it is probably here.
Christian Bell-Young Profile

I don't think there is going to be a war. If North K try anything with South K, then South K and USA will just own them all over the peninsula. North K don't pose any real threat...they're just a small nation filled with a lot of hot air!

Simon Partridge Profile
Simon Partridge answered

I don't believe that the current situation on the Korean peninsula will escalate into a full blown war. The North Korean regime (or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as it is known) has one goal: Survival. It will not achieve this through launching missiles against the United States. If war did break out, the regime would soon collapse. It is not in North Korea's interest at all.

The second reason I don't believe there will be war is China's position. If war did break out, they'd have millions of refugees on their borders causing a humanitarian disaster that they would not want to deal with. The other likely outcome is that war would create a unified, pro-USA Korea, removing the buffer zone between it and South Korea. It is in China's interest to keep the DPRK in power. It is likely that there would be US troops in the North as well, which would cause China consternation.

Adrian Masters Profile
Adrian Masters answered

I hope it is just posturing. They said they wanted to nuke Washington DC. My wife and I only live about 20 miles from there. Somehow I don't think our lovely government would tell us if a missile was on the way. I think they would save all the politicians and let the rest of us fry.

1 Person thanked the writer.
Dan Banks
Dan Banks commented
Even if the North Koreans did want to nuke the United States mainland, the fact remains that they don't actually have the capability to do this - yet. If you were President what would your response be to the current situation on the Korean peninsula?

Answer Question