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Why does North Korea seem to get away with provocations like last week's rocket test? Jennifer Lind argues that North Korea manages to deter counter-strikes through a bizarre mixture of the ‘madman theory’ (what will the loopy, hard-drinking, megalomaniacal Kim family do next?), regional fear of what would follow a North Korean implosion, and traditional nuclear deterrence.
None of that is wrong, but I think she’s missing the big factor – South Korean domestic politics. Lots of countries and other international actors do crazy stuff; the question is whether the target wants to counterstrike and risk escalation. So it is South Korea ultimately (not the U.S. or Japan) that decides whether or not to hit back. And South Korea doesn’t want to strike back for two reasons. One, South Korean population centers are extremely vulnerable to Northern aggression. Two, South Koreans just don’t care that much about North Korea anymore.
NK has stationed something like 10-20k artillery and rockets at the DMZ closest to this massive urban agglomeration in northwest SK. In effect then, half of the SK population is a massive city-hostage to NK, and it is only worsening because of Incheon’s rapid new growth.
In game scenarios of a second Korean war, the first six hours are decisive. NK knows that it will likely lose the war, and that its assets will be quickly eroded by allied air power. That is, in the first few hours, a primary SK-US bombing target will be all those rockets and canon at the DMZ.
Nonetheless, almost everyone thinks that the KPA will be able to get off enough shells and rockets to effectively devastate the Seoul-Gyeonggi-Incheon area. Given that Koreans mostly live in high-rise apartment buildings, some with 60+ stories, the result would be hundreds of World Trade Center collapses.
Originally posted by chuckk
reply to post by Germanicus
Your article is from 2002, 9 years ago about some single incident. The South Koreans do not have a problem with the USA. We are their 'hammer in waiting' in case the NKs get stupid again.
It happened in Germany once things finally settled down there, why is it not going to happen here? You make it sound that lessening military tensions is a small thing. I am sure there would be many other benefits with freedom of trade, movement and ideas.