Why North Korea Is No Threat

Ian Caffarel, Staff Writer

As the weather warms, so do tensions between the United States and North Korea,

This is nothing new, as North Korea has always made these threats around this time of year, when the U.S. and South Korea hold exercises. But now, with a change in leadership in the two allies, there is a threat being posed as never before.

This brings up a question of what to do about it.  

Now, before getting to it, a little on the issue.

After World War II, the Korean Peninsula, previously occupied by Japan, was taken over by the two major victorious Allied powers; the Soviet Union got the north, the United States got the south.

In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, beginning the Korean War, which involved the United States and at least 30 other countries. The war seesawed back and forth before finally settling into a stalemate, until 1953, when a truce ended the war.

Since then, South Korea has flourished into one of the richest countries in the world, while North Korea has grown poor and backwards, with massive loss of life from famines and floods. Also, North Korea, under the Kim Dynasty of dictators, first Kim Il-Sung, then Kim Jong-Il, and now Kim Jong-Il’s son, Kim Jong-Un, have upped the stakes, even starting nuclear weapons tests beginning in 1994.

Fast forward to today, where North Korea is once again upping the ante with another test, this time of a missile that they claim has the reach to strike the western United States. That said, the question becomes one of whether or not Americans should worry about the supposed threat.

The answer is surprising, and no, ordinary Americans should not lose sleep over an increasing threat.

First, North Korea is more bark than bite. They seem intimidating, but not dangerous. Just looking at manpower alone, the Korean People’s Army (KPA) has 1.19 million men and women in their ranks. For comparison, the Republic of Korea Armed Forces (ROKAF) are 3,725,000 strong (625,000 active, 3.1 million reserves.)

As for American forces in the region, they number 28,500 for United States Forces Korea (USFK,) and roughly 50,000 for United States Forces Japan (USFJ.)

In terms of equipment, their old Soviet-era tanks are not up to snuff with the newer M1 Abrams tanks, and South Korea’s Black Panther. The Korean People’s Army Air Force’s older Soviet and Chinese fighters and attack aircraft are no match for American F-15, F-16, F-22, and F-35 types in service.

And to add to that, no tank in North Korea’s arsenal, or any country’s arsenal, for that matter, can withstand the A-10 Warthog’s cannon.

Military comparisons aside, North Korea can be easily perceived as a threat, but with the way things go, it’s going to be a long while before they can pose a legitimate threat to the continental United States. And even if they did, then the United States and its allies will have them on the ground in less time than it just took to tell about it, due to mutually assured destruction.

The hope is that diplomacy can be used to defuse this situation, to ensure that America’s arsenal does not have to be deployed. But if that fails, then the military will have to carry the day.

In the meantime, as America’s old colonizers like to say, keep calm and carry on.