Despite North Korea’s paranoia, the world does not want a war with North Korea. Aside from the casualties and cost of war, any invasion of North Korea must include a plan to rebuild the country after it is defeated. However, North Korea’s society, government, infrastructure, and technology are abysmal. According to Business Insider, “North Korea’s 25 million citizens live under an oppressive, totalitarian government that freely detains or even puts to death citizens that stray from official messaging in any way. Simply listening to outside media not sanctioned by the state can result in death.” Likewise, Liberty in North Korea has noted that there is no freedom of movement, speech, information, or religion. Instead, there is forced leadership adulation, chronic food shortages, dismal public health, political apartheid, political prison camps, collective punishment, public executions, a refugee crisis, and sex trafficking.
Even before the devastation of war, North Korea is a nation bursting with social and political nightmares for which no nation wishes to be responsible. Similarly, no nation wants to import these problems into their country. Nations such as China, South Korea, Russia, and Japan fear the wave of refugees that is likely to result from a military conflict with North Korea.
Furthermore, a war with North Korea would almost certainly kill tens of thousands of people. U.S. intelligence agencies have estimated that North Korea’s nuclear arsenal likely includes up to 60 nuclear weapons. Furthermore, Fox News has reported, “Equipped with 20,000 artillery pieces, 1,000 short- and medium-range missiles, 70 submarines, more than 400 patrol/missile boats and 563 combat aircraft, the Hermit Kingdom’s forces are poised to do maximum damage in a sneak attack against South Korea.”
The world’s most densely populated city of Seoul is located a mere 30 miles from the Korean border. Housing 25 million people, “Seoul’s population density is almost twice that of New York City, four times higher than Los Angeles and eight times higher than the density of Rome.” In nearly every war scenario, an attack against North Korea will provoke an attack against Seoul before anything can be done to prevent it. In 2003, TIME reported, “Its conventional artillery capability would allow North Korea to flatten Seoul in the first half-hour of any confrontation.”
President Donald Trump inherited a foreign policy mess which has been compounded through years of appeasement, kicking the can down the road, empty threats, and inconsistent approaches. The Atlantic reported, “In the more than four decades since Richard Nixon held office, the U.S. has tried to control North Korea by issuing threats, conducting military exercises, ratcheting up diplomatic sanctions, leaning on China, and most recently, it seems likely, committing cybersabotage.” Today it is generally accepted that there are four possible approaches to dealing with North Korea: A pre-emptive military strike, diplomatic and economic pressure, assassination of Kim Jong Un, and acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear state. There are no good options as each of these approaches risk triggering a doomsday scenario.
This article is excerpted from the paper “Evaluating the North Korean Crisis.”
1. Lockie, Alex. “What North Koreans Really Think of Their Supreme Leader.” Business Insider, November 3, 2016. Accessed August 8, 2017. http://www.businessinsider.com/north-korean-opinions-kim-jong-un-2016-11.
2. “The People’s Challenges.” Liberty in North Korea, n.d. Accessed August 10, 2017. http://www.libertyinnorthkorea.org/learn-nk-challenges/.
3. Warrick, Joby and Ellen Nakashima and Anna Fifield. “North Korea Now Making Missile-Ready Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Analysts Say.” The Washington Post, August 8, 2017. Accessed August 10, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/north-korea-now-making-missile-ready-nuclear-weapons-us-analysts-say/2017/08/08/e14b882a-7b6b-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html?utm_term=.1b1b1cfbff71.
4. Wallace, Christopher. “North Korea’s Army: 1.2M Men, obsolete Equipment and Nukes.” Fox News, April 28, 2017. Accessed August 10, 2017. http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/04/28/north-koreas-army-1-2m-men-obsolete-equipment-and-nukes.html.
6. “Seoul Population 2017.” World Population Review, n.d. Accessed August 10, 2017. http://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities/seoul-population/.
7. Karon, Tony. “North Korea Planning a Nuke Test?” TIME, April 24, 2003. Accessed August 10, 2017. http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,446776,00.html.
8. Bowden, Mark. “How to Deal with North Korea.” The Atlantic, July/August 2017. Accessed August 10, 2017. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/07/the-worst-problem-on-earth/528717/.