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So what about going down in a blaze of glory? It's false glory by anyone's standards since he will be the bad guy for the next few upcoming generations of Koreans. He was true to the picture the south and the rest of the world (well almost all of it) has of North Korea.
And the other thing is this nuke thing again. Pretty much all nuclear tests/deployments worldwide have been carried out either by dropping as bombs from planes or static, just like North Korea did, if there were rockets involved, the test happend atmospheric and not on the ground (except for Frigate Bird, it seems?). Either way, what I'm trying to say is commentators should be careful with the assumption that North Korea doesn't have the ability to do that, when a Fishtrawler is enough - unlikely, but still. That is all assuming the threats were phrased in a way that doesn't specify the means of transport any further, à la "we will send rockets to nuke you".
My worry isn't any sort of attack on U.S. soil, which North Korea is obviously not capable of doing, but an attack on U.S. bases in South Korea or South Korean cities is not out of the question. I don't believe Un has any power at all and I'm nearly certain the military leaders that stand behind him are the ones pulling the strings behind all of this. Judging by the way the government already treats its own people, I would be terrified but not surprised to see them attempt to fire nuclear weapons at South Korea..though it would almost inevitably effect their own people far more. The country has been far from rational for decades.
He's most likely just flexing his muscles and showing his people that he's not a little kid but capable of ruling with an iron hand like his father and his father's father before that.
They'll back. They just want to punish South economically and the US diplomatically for a while before they pull back. Most likely after a treaty has been signed that benefits them.
rein them in, how far the Chinese are willing to push back remains to be seen. My understanding is that they would not do enough to actually threaten the stability of Pyongyang.
Like you said, this probably is a domestic issue, tough talk for the military and political elite. Unlike his father and grandfather, Jong-un has no military experience, the amount of support he has within the military elite is unknown. He may be pushing things this far in order to curry favor and prove himself. The North really do hate these joint exercises though. They probably do see them as real threats. There is some real provocation in this crisis, even if there is almost no chance it leads to war.
---------- Post added at 10:42 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:30 AM ----------
Closing Kaesong was pretty silly. North Korea just closed off it's best source of hard currency.