North Korea War

Is a North Korea war possible? U.S. troops have been stationed in Korea since July, 1950, after 75,000 North Korean troops invaded South Korea by crossing the 38th parallel. North Korea constantly threatens war on South Korea and the U.S. and incidents are frequent on land and sea. 

Most news outlets only report the occasional nuclear missile launch attempt and crazy-sounding threats from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Is today's threat of North Korea war worse, better, or the same as it has been in the past?

Who is in Charge in North Korea?

Could A War Be Started Because of North Korea?

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Kim Jong-un is the grandson of Kim Il-sung, who was North Korea's dictator during the official Korean War (1950-1953), and son of Kim Jong-il, the familiar leisure-suit wearing chubby dictator referred to as "The Dear Leader."

What Happened in the Past?

During the first years of the Korean conflict, Soviet Russia and communist China both supported the North Korean dictators with weapons, "advisers" and in the case of the Chinese, numerous troops. The nuclear arms race was well under way. Leaders like Presidents Truman and Eisenhower and ordinary Americans feared a third world war less than 10 years after the second one. This time, it would be fought with atomic weapons.

Korean War Cost Many Lives

Could A War Be Started Because of North Korea?

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Some historians call the Korean War the "Secret War," because the war got a lot less publicity than World War II or Vietnam. It was a very costly war. In three years, almost 40,000 Americans died, and 100,000 vets were wounded. Overall, 5 million people died, and more than half were civilians. 

Current Situation

Flash-forward to today. The North Koreans are still threatening all-out war and they haven't stopped since the 50s. Current leader Kim Jong-un has tested nuclear missiles and chemical weapons dozens of times since he became the country's dictator after his father's death in 2011. The border incidents quieted down a little during the 70s and 80s. Since Kim Jong-un took over, there have been almost constant threats coming out of the country's capital, Pyongyang.

Nuclear and Other Threats

Could A War Be Started Because of North Korea?

North Korea currently has 4 types of missiles that can reach anywhere from 1,000 to 6,000 kilometers away. The longest-range missiles can reach Alaska and Hawaii. Any of the missiles can easily reach Seoul in South Korea, and most of them can reach Japan. The country re-started its nuclear program at Yongbon, and is estimated to be able to make enough nuclear material for one bomb a year. North Korea's tests of nuclear weapons have so far been smaller than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

Kim Jong-un is also threatening to launch satellites and develop long-range rockets. The country's first space launch was in 2012. All of these activities are banned by the United Nations to no effect. 

Realistic Possibility of War

South Koreans won't forget losing 48 sailors and their warship the Cheonan in March, 2010 when it was ripped in half by a torpedo that the North Koreans continue to deny was ever fired. North Korea has an estimated 1.1 million troops in its army, and about 80% of them are believed to be within 100 kilometers of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) at the 38th parallel. The troops are thought to be poorly trained and equipped. But, the country has artillery and isn't shy about using it. 

North Korea's Kim is the Biggest Threat

The biggest danger could be the current leader, Kim Jong-un himself. Some news reports say that the North Korean people don't respect him as much as they supposedly respected his father and grandfather.

Groomed to take over from his father, Kim could feel threatened and launch an artillery, military or even nuclear strike against South Korea or Japan. He isn't just unstable and isolated, he's ordered the executions of over 340 people since he became the country's dictator in 2011, most famously, his own uncle and the uncle's entire family.

Kim has reportedly ordered people killed for "slouching," and "bad attitude." In May, 2015, he ordered defense minister Hyong Yong-chol killed in order to demonstrate an anti-aircraft weapon: in front of the man's family. Kim has gone through five defense ministers in five straight years. His father ruled for 17 years and had 3 defense ministers, and only one of the three was "purged."

Considering how unstable Kim Jong-un's actions are, there is a chance of war with North Korea no matter what "experts" say. Kim 's grandfather, supposedly a more "stable" dictator, sent 75,000 troops into South Korea in 1950, and it ended up costing 5 million people their lives, including 40,000 Americans. It happened before, the country threatens constantly, and it could happen again.