North Korea can't afford their huge armed forces. Yet the armed forces exist and service members wish to survive in the absence of government support:
It gets even worse in the cold weather because many soldiers were now, for the first time, victims of electricity and fuel shortages. This led to troops going to areas around their bases, often to places where soldiers were rarely seen and stole food from civilians and cut down what few trees left for fuel. This sort of thing is increasingly common and North Koreans have come to regard their troops as bandits not defenders.
How long before the soldiers target the rulers who live well rather than the civilians who barely have more than the troops?
This is the problem that I discussed back in 2006 when I read that North Korea was embarking on a policy of "kooks, spooks, and nukes."
That is, the rulers would use spies to control the people and nukes to deter invasion. But that left a huge military without the support needed to maintain it. What do do?
And if the regime in Pyongyang is demoting the army, even if it is unable to take on the South Korean and American armies, it will still be strong enough to fight the regime secret police. Downgrading the army will likely set in a spiral of mistrust and resentment on the part of the North Korean leaders and the army. The North Korean army might begin to identify more with the oppressed people who along with them will be stuck with the lowest priority in resources. And with the South Korean army quite good, the North Koreans cannot afford to disband significant chunks of their army and visibly appear weaker. This will prevent the North Koreans from concentrating the fewer resources into keeping a smaller army happy.
It would make sense for a North Korea relying on nukes for protecting the regime against invasion to try to negotiate a reduction in ground forces in South Korea and North Korea to reduce the coup threat in the North and reduce the invasion threat from the South Koreans.
Nine years later, North Korea still has a huge military and the lack of resources to support it is having a bad effect on the military forced to strong-arm civilians and a bad effect on civilians who don't see the military as the glorious defenders against the makers of the delicious Choco Pie.
What is the North Korean regime to do when it can't risk demobilizing the army--it needs the labor and needs to keep young hungry men contained rather than wandering around loose as a threat to the government--yet can't defeat South Korea by using it?
Isn't the military a burden and potential threat to the regime as well as to unfortunate civilians nearby hungry and cold troops?
Isn't the only logical course of action, as I raised in that post above on defeating South Korea, to commit suicide by ROK? That is, couldn't North Korea's rulers fling their army at South Korea, confident that the South Koreans and Americans would destroy it (and working up a public hate among North Korean civilians for the evil South Korea and America)--thus ending the threat to the regime--while being unwilling to counter-invade North Korea, thus keeping the regime safe?
And at the end of the war, the North Korean military is cut down to size and the North Koreans can actually implement a policy of kooks, spooks, and nukes without the burden of that useless and threatening army.
Maybe aid to the north would seem like a good idea after winning a destructive war to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Yeah, I know how that sounds. And the North Korean regime would have to be pretty evil to carry out such a strategy. But is it really out of bounds for them?