The following is based on internet information, in most cases, dated less than a year old.
North Korea – the Basics
N. Korea is a communist dictatorship, of authoritarian/totalitarian rule. It utilizes a Socialist economy where private enterprise is (mostly) forbidden.
The supreme leader is worshiped as a religious god; Christianity or any formal religion is taboo. In the words of a former N. Korean Propagandist, the leader is a deity (not unlike the Sun God was for the Egyptians). Get too close to him and you’ll burn; stray too far away and you’ll freeze.
In N. Korea, you are either an intellectual, a worker or a peasant. Citizens are programmed from early childhood to be loyal to the State. Most of the programming occurs in the capital, Pyongyang – N. Korea’s stage for showing the world the best of their best. Those who are permitted to live in the capital have a much more prosperous life than those who reside in the other (lesser) cities, towns and countryside.
Housing is allocated, based on your relative worth to the government. Power outages are said to be common while running tap water is not. It has been estimated that 75% of N. Koreans don’t have enough to eat. A third of the country suffers malnutrition, requiring a (grossly inadequate) public food distribution program. Agricultural requirements for equipment and fertilizer can’t be met. Those in the outlying areas have it the worst, some stating they have had to eat sand and wood. In Pyongyang, there are fully stocked grocery stores for display only. Any tourist granted entry into the country will likely have a guard and a guide, minimally. The tourist will stay, eat, go and see only what and where the State permits on a regimented schedule. The choreographed itinerary has been described as serving two purposes: to speak down of or degrade the actions of U.S. Imperialists, and to praise the achievements of the supreme leader/North Korea.
State radio is said to be piped into (at least some) homes and is ever-present in the public as it blares from street corner speakers. Television is State-controlled as well, for the 5 hour duration its single channel broadcasts each day. Any other filming is (or can be) considered treason.
The State controls nearly all information that comes in, or out. Mobile telephones have recently become available but have been modified to permit in-State communications only (although this modification is said to be illegally reversible). Internet is available to scientists/persons of need as deemed by the government. Access to popular culture, either by foreign radio, television or cinema through illegally obtained radios, DVDs and thumb drives, is the greatest threat to central command for its promotion of the idealism of democracy, driving defection rates. This short-term solution, however, is far from foolproof when friends and neighbors act as agents of the State, either for rewards. Or out of fear that they knew but didn’t report it. One documentary, filming a conversation among Pyongyang elitists, showed a translated statement wherein the speaker believes that one out of every three persons would secretly report someone planning to act contrary to the government’s doctrines.
Military might, for the most part, is composed of obsolete vehicles and weaponry. Their army outnumbers South Korea >2:1, not counting their reservists that number in the several millions. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHGbG_I3v28)
Essentially, the primary differences between North Korea and South Korea is night and day, literally. When the Korean peninsula is viewed at night from space, North Korea is completely dark (except for a small area believed to be Pyongyang) compared to the bright speckles of varying light intensities throughout South Korea. The north lives in the stone age, comparatively, relative to the south. Residents to the north are kept primitive by controlling their perceptions, thoughts, actions and any interactions with outsiders. The reverence they display for their leader can only be explained as either fear-induced acting for the camera or the results of a lifetime of mind control (brainwashing).
Life in North Korea is little more than slavery, similar to how Black Americans were treated in the South. The State owns you and can do what they want, when they want. You can either be a mindless robot in a voluntary labor camp, what they call “life,” or you can have your brain kicked in at an involuntary labor or prison camp.
Power – How it is Obtained and Maintained
Each presiding supreme leader seems to select his successor. Since North Korea was founded by a member of the “Kim” family, each successor has coincidentally also been a “Kim” family member. There are elections and r-elections, but power at the top always seems to get the same person on the ballot (see next paragraph).
Other high-ranking officials are said to be elected by a people’s vote every 5 years. Voting is mandatory and serves as a census. If a resident over the age of 17 isn’t on the list as having voted, they risk serious consequences. There is only one name on the ballot. If the voter chooses to NOT vote for that candidate, they must cross out the name on the ballot and deposit their ballot in a special booth box. Abstaining to vote or voting against the candidate is grounds for treason, thus ensuring that the ballot candidate always wins.
Government control (power) is achieved by inflicting fear on the commoners. One tactic used for asserting control is the government’s practice of guilt by association. If anyone commits an act against the State, the entire family is just as guilty. Political prison camps and their population has grown as a result. Torture is commonly used within these camps. “Frontline” has stated that it is estimated that 1 in every 100 N. Koreans is a political prisoner, most of which are captured defectors. Technically, since N. Korea continues to remain at war with S. Korea, having signed an armistice but not a peace treaty, this border is heavily patrolled. Defection is usually attempted via China, a close ally of N. Korea. Any defector caught in China is sent back to N. Korea for punishment. One documentary states that a second capture for the same crime of attempt to flee (defect) results in execution.
For the not-so-common senior officials, power and control over them is achieved through the use of gift politics. This entails the awarding of gifts for loyalty, supposedly after-the-fact. Whether it occurs before or after the demonstration of loyalty, it’s intended to win over the hearts of senior officials. It’s a psychological ploy not unlike overwhelming someone with niceties, or “catching more flies with honey.” It’s a tactic Kim Jong-un learned from his father, who used it “to firmly establish power.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKYBu9xIfac) Others might say it sounds a lot like buying someone’s support. In America we refer to this as (subtle) bribery.
Where Does the Money Come From?
One of the foremost (defected) experts on the N. Korean Economy states that there are actually two economy models in use: “a People’s Economy and the Royal Court Economy, which serves as the financial foundation for the Kim Dynasty. The People’s Economy is a typical Socialist economic system. Citizens use plans, compiled by the Party and the Cabinet, to produce goods and services. They receive supplies in return.” Kim Jong-un’s father “started using public funds as his own property to strengthen his power. That’s how the Royal Court Economy began. This supreme leader siphoned off large amounts of money that he could use as he wished, without seeking the party’s approval. He used the money for gift politics and also military projects, such as developing missiles and nuclear weapons. The Royal Court Economy has expanded at the expense of the People’s Economy and is now believed to account for more than 60% of the nation’s entire economic activity.”
“The Royal Court Economy… it is a parasite that sticks a straw into the People’s Economy and sucks out the flesh. The money is stored in (the Workers’) Party Headquarters. It holds a huge amount of Japanese Yen, dollars and euros.” One method of earning foreign currency was through the sale of weapons to countries, including Iran and Syria, produced locally in N. Korean factories. More recently, N. Korea has traded gold, from its huge deposits, for cash. Both activities channeled the monies through a bank in Macau.
Approximately 3 years ago, it appears the Royal Court Economy had started to dry up (presumably due to overspending). Whereas Kim Jong-un has, since day one of succeeding his father, given out gifts far more lavish than his father to gain acceptance and maintain power, most recently, some beneficiaries were receiving gifts of gratitude (words) only. Efforts to keep the Royal Court Economy tills stocked have included the construction and sale of bronze artworks – statutes – some twenty-five or more, as contracted by African nations. N. Korea has also obtained contracts to send labor personnel outside of their country, such as to build apartments in Mongolia. Female laborers are not exempt and have been placed to work in such jobs as a sewing factory, also in Mongolia. “It’s estimated that there are now 100,000 N. Koreans working around the world.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKYBu9xIfac).
Money has also been obtained illegitimately, reputedly through counterfeiting U.S. currency, insurance scams with their State-owned Insurance Company – Korea National Insurance Corporation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO8UhOoL7R8), and government-produced heroin, sold on the black market. “Corruption is institutionalized.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NF8astthMc)
It would appear that N. Korea is spending a good portion of the People’s money to fund the State nuclear program. In fact, the government has had to cut back, at least during one period of time, on their gifts to senior officials, due to a shortage of funds. Since gifts have routinely been used to buy loyalty, a change in this practice would most certainly jeopardize future allegiance and create instability. Therefore, the Royal Court Economy must seek out a means to reinstitute the practice if power for the current regime is to be maintained.
Weapons trading is a known fact, as is the sale of gold and other precious minerals. Both are being monitored and Macau, the banking capital for N. Korea’s illicit financial transactions, is under close scrutiny and has had at least one major account frozen. Likewise, insurance scams have been identified, limiting their future donations to N. Korea’s economy.
United Nations sanctions appear to have done little if anything towards creating a hardship on N. Korea’s Economy. The sanctions must go further, inclusive of the expelling of all N. Koreans from every country where they are utilized as a work force. Additionally, all countries with contracts for goods (like uranium?) or remote services from N. Korea must cease and desist immediately. World Courts must be given the authority to shield any country that has to breach a contract from any legal ramifications. All ports outside of N. Korea should be banned from accepting N.Korean shipments of any kind, by any means (via satellite tracking). Countries that do not enforce these sanctions should be sanctioned themselves for their interference in achieving world stability. In the words of Eldridge Cleaver, “There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.”
N. Korean Allies
A country’s governmental structure typically defines who they befriend. In N. Korea’s case, being a non-democratic, communist state with a dictatorship, under authoritarian/totalitarian rule, they have been known to align themselves with other countries of similar structure and make-up. Most notably, the countries of China and Russia come to mind, both of which have formidable, “complicated” relationships with the United States.
Other dictatorships have included the names of Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and Saddam Hussein. Other countries utilizing a dictatorship include Iran and Syria. This list would seem to bear out that any country operating under an archaic form of government that includes a dictatorship, should never have access to nuclear weapons.
It’s likely that any last-ditch funds, necessary to continue their uranium enrichment program and Inter-continental Ballistic Missile technology, will come as a debt from one of their allies. Banking audits, identically or similar to that used to discover the Macau connection, must become standard practice, at least in the short-term. Additionally, it’s not inconceivable that N. Korea may, in the future, sell or otherwise trade their ICBM technology and uranium/nuclear stores to a lesser-advanced country, also likely to be a non-democracy, communist dictatorship. This would provide the financial means to support further research and developments. Cyber monitoring to detect this dissemination is critical.
N. Korean Enemies
The short list falls to a definite three – Japan, South Korea and the United States. Both Japan and South Korea are allies to the U.S.
The U.S. bombed N. Korea nearly into oblivion during the Korean War. The U.S. siding with N. Korea’s rival, S. Korea, adds to the U.S.’s “guilt by association.” Despite N. Korea’s threats to annihilate the U.S. by nuclear means, their true “backyard” enemy is S. Korea, whom N. Korea can’t touch due to S. Korea’s alliance with big brother, the U.S.
Likewise, the U.S. is unable to exercise a heavy hand without jeopardizing Seoul, the capital and largest populated area of S. Korea, within earshot (about 35 miles) of the demilitarized zone between the two countries. China and Russia’s alliance with N. Korea’s may provide these allies with an open door to any conflict with the U.S. that is created with N. Korea.
Hence, the stand-off.
The Supreme Leader
Kim Jong-un assumed power with but a year of exposure and experience to his father’s party dominance, prior to his father’s death. Kim Jong-un spent his first two years under the guidance, some say mentorship, of his Uncle, Jang Song-thaek, a key policy advisor for the new leader lacking leadership skills. While Kim Jong-un’s father was in power, “uncle” had been in a political position that was second only to the supreme leader and had achieved de facto leadership of N. Korea when Kim Jong-un’s father took ill and later died. Jang Song-thaek was then promoted to a 4 star general.
Kim Jong-un’s gift politics has included the building of an amusement park(s), water park(s), golf courses and a ski resort, to the detriment of funding the People’s Economy. These perks aren’t affordable for the vast majority of N. Koreans, who earn a paltry $3-5 per MONTH. Kim Jong-un also has millions of dollars in cars, a private yacht and a private jet.
When the coffer funds began to dwindle, Kim Jong-un ordered his Uncle to find new sources to restore the Royal Court Economy. This resulted, in part, with Jang Song-thaek influencing previously established sources, bringing to him not only money but power. It is believed that Kim Jong-un deemed his Uncle to be a threat, perhaps inclusive of losing access to the money Kim Jong-un was in desperate need of. Jang Song-thaek was held responsible for the economic problems of the nation, charged with violations against the State, found guilty and was executed. At least one defected expert in N. Korea’s Economy believes that Jang Song-thaek “was trying to normalize economic conditions.” Whatever Jang Song-thaek’s rationale, his death is said to have somehow created a rift between N. Korea and China.
Based on his lack of military and political experience, Kim Jong-un was immature at the beginning of his reign. His current day threats seem to confirm that nothing has changed. He has shown the barbaric extent he is willing to go to protect his reign and his kingdom of assets.
What Do We Know?
The United Nations has failed miserably to recognize and circumvent a problem that threatens a few countries directly but all countries indirectly. Their actions have, thus far, been few and futile, as has been their history of engagement in similar matters. A nuclear winter will have to occur before they realize the seriousness of the situation that could have been prevented. Therefore, it’s unreasonable to expect the world-wide expulsion of N. Koreans from all countries or the enforcement to terminate all contracts for goods or services and to blockade all ports against N. Korean shipments. Bank audits are ineffective against cash transactions and cyber monitoring may not be possible against a country that has, themselves, advanced their hacking capabilities.
Their Current Armament
N. Korea has, as early as September 2016, successfully tested a nuclear weapon with a yield of 25 kilotons. This is equivalent to 25,000 tons of TNT. This amount surpasses the yield delivered in the bomb dropped on Hiroshima (13-18 kilotons) and Nagasaki (20-22 kilotons). Most recently, it has been estimated that N. Korea has 15-20 nuclear bombs with a total yield of 50 kilotons.
Short range missiles, capable of reaching out to 124 miles, number to be roughly 600. Mid range missiles, able to hit targets about 620 miles away, number to be 200. Long range missiles, able to fly 1550 to 3100 miles, amount to 50. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j261NRIXoWI)
Intermediate ballistic missile testing (1800-3400 mile range) is ongoing, as is their Inter-continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM; range greater than 3400 miles) program. A recent ICBM launch, in late July 2017, achieved a height and distance which, when extrapolated out, presents a trajectory that is said to enable it to hit Chicago and possibly the east coast of the United States. However, there is currently no assurance that a nuclear or non-nuclear payload would survive reentry. (http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/analysts-doubt-north-koreas-icbm-entry-capability-48960714)
The U.S. has developed and installed their Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in S. Korea and neighboring areas. This defensive weapon is designed to shoot down short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase (as they descend to their target). Additionally, the U.S. has deployed guided missile destroyers into Korean waters to shoot down short and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their post boost phase (as they level out from their ascent) and prior to reentry (the mid-course, between ascent and descent). Neither system is 100% accurate (and if you take another look, neither appears to be designed for an ICBM). (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j261NRIXoWI)
N. Korea would be unable to ascertain the legitimacy of their (continually) refined missile technology if the U.S. purposefully terminated the missile flight prior to a successful splashdown. Once the missile exits N. Korean airspace, its flight should be aborted by whatever measures necessary. This would prevent N. Korea from creating a verifiable method for nuclear (chemical or biological) payload reentry. The fact that the U.S. has not excised these missiles from the skies lends serious doubt as to their defensive capability for this task.
Relative to other political leaders, Kim Jong-un is immature at best. Despite this, he dismissed half of the generals he started with. He is egotistical and displays arrogance rather than restraint for reflection. His actions are self-serving and self-gratifying, with a sense of invincibility, as is evident by his ongoing threats to attack U.S. property and domains. These threats have included the use of nuclear weapons which he has successfully created. He need only learn to compact them and to refine a delivery vehicle for transport. Culturally, his threats could just be words “to save face” in front of those he commands and requires respect and allegiance from. However, he has reputedly killed, his policy advisor, a family member no less, as if he had pulled the trigger himself, all in the name of self-preservation.
These are not the decisions of a rational leader. They are self-indulgences for personal gain. A primitive mind, bent on reigning through terror, cannot be bargained with.
INTELLIGENCE – Kim Jong-un idolizes his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, considered to be the founding father and eternal supreme leader beloved by N. Korea. It is thought that Kim Jong-un tries to imitate him so that he might be accepted and glorified as his grandfather was. More study should go towards analyzing Kim Il-sung, including his leadership and whatever decisions he enacted (his legacy) that might be brought to Kim Jong-un’s attention by the U.S. if it will help to temper the current situation.
Berne, Switzerland is home to one of the largest N. Korean communities abroad. This could be a valuable intelligence source, at least from a historical perspective.
The film companies that have created the documentaries; the American tourists (Dennis Rodman, anyone?) who have visited or have family in N. Korea. All may have intelligence contributions now, or could be utilized through their connections to gain intelligence.
The list of N. Korean defectors is said to be enormous, 25,000 or more resettling in S. Korea. Again, these persons may serve as an intelligence source for more recent information on Kim Jong-un and the logistics of his life.
If defectors can be smuggled out of N. Korea, multiple intelligence agents, separately, should be able to be smuggled in.
Once Kim Jong-un, the person, is fully known and understood, a psychological profile must be created if we are to know his true behavior and capabilities.
NAVAL BLOCKADE – The U.S. should seek and obtain UN support for a naval blockade to eliminate all import and export activity for all N. Korean ports. Any cargo vessel attempting to enter a N. Korean port via international waters must be indefinitely detained or turned away before they can reach State or ally coastal waters. Any vessel attempting to leave N. Korean ports, into international waters should receive like treatment. Ideally, confiscation of goods should occur.
“They already possess the capability to transport Weapons of Mass Destruction anywhere in the world through their trading companies, their affiliates and a very sophisticated shipping network. North Korea is already a nuclear threat.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=madZhwKI2dA)
RIVAL FACTIONS – State competitors for power and/or control are known to exist against Kim Jong-un. This needs to be aided and exploited to weaken the current regime, with the intent to oust him if a known better alternative exists. At the very least, any fear that can be harnessed against the leader may alter his behavior, perhaps delaying progression on the tasks geared to enable a nuclear attack.
CONFLICT – If a conflict is warranted, the best possible attack would come from a so-called ally – China or Russia – wholly or in part, as a sign of solidarity against nuclear weapons. These countries house the political figures willing to negotiate for actions that could serve both them and the U.S. For example, what would the U.S. be willing to do for China or Russia to take care of this nonsensical bully? Remove THAAD from the region? Lift sanctions? Provide economic stimulus? Improve trade?
China and Russia, you’d be smart to try and get something out of this. N. Korea is your dog. If you can’t keep him on a leash and it goes off and bites us (U.S.), we’re going to punish the dog and you for not preventing it. So if a nuclear bomb lands at our doorstep, you best go outside and look over the skies for the one coming back to you. We ALL have a stake in this and we’re ALL going to share in it, one way or another! Besides, let’s get real. If China or Russia was being threatened with a near-future nuclear missile by, let’s say, India, you wouldn’t give it a second thought to go in and neutralize their program by whatever mean necessary.
Kim Jong-un IS the head of the snake. Remove the head and you remove the immediate threat, perhaps the entire threat. The most likely means of guaranteeing U.S. Homeland Security is to –
- Internally, facilitate a change of regime, using the rebels already in place.
- Internally or externally, facilitate a change of regime, inclusive of a highly defined and concentrated tactical “strike” on specific sites, equipment and personnel.
- Externally, canvas the country with a bombing campaign, preceded with the use of non-nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse(EMP) weaponry, such as the CHAMP cruise missile and selectly equipped drones in overlying zones near the DMZ, known radar and missile installations and over Pyongyang, prior to supplementation with smart bombs and guided missiles, such as cruise and tomohawk missiles, when a reduction in collateral damage is warranted.
- All electricity-producing plants and/or electrical transmission grid outside of the EMP zones or where hardened electronics are believed to be in use.
- The DMZ where artillery batteries have Seoul within range and areas within the southern half of the State suspected of containing artillery;
- Any other known locations housing “first strike” weaponry with an emphasis on missile battery locations, including launch sites for prior missile tests;
- All military installations housing their Air Force, with the goal of grounding them;
- Any military installations known to house troops;
- Suspected or known locations at or near the DMZ where troop tunnels may exist; and
- Any munitions storage areas with an emphasis on biological and chemical weapons.
- Use the existing naval blockade force, described above, as a water extension of the DMZ boundary on both sides of the peninsula, preventing their navy from penetrating S. Korean coastal waters; and
- Place E-3 Sentries or similar aircraft in the skies to surveil for missiles or enemy aircraft blind to naval ship radar, with fighter jets in the air to intervene. An overlap grid has to be in place to identify any missile flight and multiple layers of anti-missile technology readily available for in-flight termination.
- If an attack is commenced under cover of darkness, amass S. Korean troops in select, staged fronts near the DMZ (in case they are brought into the conflict, have N. Korea bring the ground war into S. Korea). Use infrared monitoring from the sky to identify temperature gradients from N. Korean movement (relative to their background heat signature) to give away troop and tunnel locations. Heat plumes from missile/other launchings would also persist long enough to create a homing beacon for a retaliatory strike. Otherwise, an ideal time for both a devastating physical AND psychological attack would be during one of N. Korea’s military parades where a large gathering of troops and equipment could be removed from the playing field. Unfortunately, if Kim Jong-un is to be considered America’s enemy, every citizen in Pyongyang (constituting the majority of their reserve army) must also be viewed with the same label for their idolization and allegiance to him.
- Lastly, don’t forget about their satellite that has an orbital path across the U.S. This may well be a weapon waiting to be used.
Politically speaking, it’s extremely important that all offensive and defensive weapons come from OUTSIDE South Korea. If the U.S. is to attack, it must come exclusively from them and not include an ally, to avoid a defensive retaliation against the allies and to keep them out of the blame game. If S. Korea is brought into the conflict, it will be in RESPONSE to having been attacked. Once S. Korea has been dragged into the fight, all gloves come off. There’s no humanity in war and I’d be playing by their rules, primitive as they may be. At least this is the way I’d respond to a person who rots the spirit of the (once) innocent.
Ultimately, the U.S. must be willing to overlook the possible fallout of a conflict with North Korea even if those actions have repercussions on South Korea or Japan. If a war (or other menacing conflict) between N. Korea and the U.S. is inevitable, a war fought with conventional weapons is far more preferred than one with nuclear weapons. Once the Payload has been compacted and the delivery vehicle has been perfected, by some estimates to be within a year, the threat from a self-absorbed dictator – or other political figure from a country he sells his technology to – can become a reality that affects anyone at any time, regardless of provocation.
The precedent set now must deter any other country from following in the footsteps of N. Korea if planet Earth is to survive.