Wednesday, May 03, 2017

The Wild Card in North Korea

Yes, North Korea's army is large but weak. This is no revelation if you pay attention to these things. But it is a wild card that makes calculations very difficult.

North Korea is so broke after they lost the USSR's support, North Korea resorted to a strategy of starving the army to feed the nuclear weapons program and the secret police to keep the people and army in line.

The army is truly fragile and unlikely to survive a war. Yet it is too dangerous to demobilize.

Which leads to another problem scenario, of course. What if Kim wants South Korea to destroy that unaffordable but potentially dangerous army?

But if Kim Jong-un wants to use his military to win a war rather than to eliminate it as a threat to him, the North Korean army is so weak that for it to take ground in South Korea, North Korea would pretty much have to make massive use of chemical weapons and count on the South Korean army collapsing and breaking, allowing the North Korean army to road march south.

I can't say that hope couldn't happen even if I like our odds.

Although I half jokingly wonder if the North Korean army would fall apart looting malls and grocery stores as it moved into South Korean territory in the wake of a collapsing South Korean army.

UPDATE: From Strategypage:

Everyone knows how hard life has become for the troops. It has become so bad that North Korea troops spend more of their time farming (to feed themselves) and working in factories or construction (to pay for their housing and necessities like fuel) and this means they have less time for combat training. Another reason for low morale is the realization that these conscript troops are essentially slaves from age 17 until their late 20s and are now suffering from the growing food and fuel shortages that have long afflicted civilians only. It used to be the troops were at least guaranteed adequate supplies of food and fuel but now only officers get that.

I have no idea if the North Korean army is a threat to South Korea or a threat to the murderous elites who barely maintain them as a slave labor force.

UPDATE: Well yeah, a message should be sent to North Korea that their chemical weapons use won't be tolerated.

But I'm not sure what good that message would do if the North Koreans hope to use their army for an offensive rather than ritual suicide.