I am an American but I live in South Korea.
The consensus in South Korea seems to be that Kim Jong Un is just a bloviating idiot who is trying to look strong to his people. By making repeated threats of nuclear war in the UN, disconnecting direct hotlines to South Korea, and declaring a state of war along with the promise of total annihilation to the US and South Korea throughout their state-run propaganda machines, North Korea has got many people on edge. Are they serious about war (which would greatly damage if not completely destroy them) or is it all just braggadocio to distract the North Korean people from the fact that they have no food or electricity? Most people think the latter. But there’s a problem with this plan.
The South has held an adamant policy of peace with the North, despite the North’s antagonistic behavior. There have been isolated acts of violence over the years attributed to Pyeongyang. South Korea, despite casualties from said incidents, has not retaliated. For sixty years North Korea has been threatening the South and they’ve kind of just gotten used to their crazy hick neighbor and his closet of guns. Many South Koreans just ignore the North at this point. So here’s the problem: America is not like that. We attack when we think there’s a possibility Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. And we don’t just attack. We stay in your country and screw it up for years and years. It’s not fun. First we kill your leaders and then your country becomes an anarchy, then a makeshift democracy, then back to a dictatorship (now with better mustcahe!), and then it descends into chaos run by warlords, the military, terrorists, and/or corrupt government officials. Obviously North Korea is nothing like the Middle East so that probably won’t happen, but we will kill the leaders. That much is pretty much a given.
Kim Jong Un is young and many have speculated that he does not know how far he can push things. Someone needs to tell him he’s provoking a massive trigger-happy country with a lot of weapons that are much better than his. I don’t care what your politics are. America loves war. I spoke with some Americans who actually want there to be a war with North Korea. And I’m not saying this is something to be proud of. I’m embarrassed my country is so nuts for war. But I do think Kim Jong Un has no idea that America is not South Korea. He’s gotten used to the South’s chill demeanor and dreams for peace and now he’s aiming his rhetoric at the big nervous bully across the street with fists like two freight trains.
My personal theory: maybe North Korea really does want to attack America, but not to win. In this theory North Korea is more like the Duchy of Grand Fenwick from Leonard Wibberley’s “The Mouse that Roared.”
Anyway…I hope I don’t get blowed up anytime soon.