North Korea vows to tear up Korean War ceasefire.

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/05/north-korea-korean-war-ceasefire

So, North Korea's saying "fuck you" to the ceasefire. What could this mean? Are we in for a war? If so, how big do you reckon it'll be/who do you think will win (If it's nuclear, nobody wins). Or is it just a load of words that will come to nothing more than a very minor skirmish (relatively) then things will go about exactly the same.

I'm worried, but I'm not screaming doom and gloom yet. I just hope that if there is a war Britain doesn't get into it.

North Korea would be stupid to try anything if for nothing else because I really don't know if China would have their back if they pulled something really stupid. I mean China is their partner but I doubt they want be pulled into a fruitless war over nothing but petty feeling.

Either way sounds like North Korea is trying to flex their muscles and scare people and it is working.

NK has no intention of ripping up the ceasefire.

It's just playing brinkmanship to see whether it can push SK/USA to back down and hand it some free aid money instead.

This could have the knock-on-effect of taking out The Pirate Bay if war did ever happen. I don't think North Korea actually wants to go to war, and they're just being proud/bluffing. The country seems to be giving mixed signals really...hard to tell what will happen.

China would never back them against the U.S. That would be their only hope of actually winning and it doesn't exist. China is too economically dependent on the U.S. to actually fight us.

There is no way they would try to fight this war. It would be beyond dumb. They're just trying to scare other nations into giving them aid money to feed their starving populace.

ToastiestZombie:

So, North Korea's saying "fuck you" to the ceasefire. What could this mean? Are we in for a war? If so, how big do you reckon it'll be/who do you think will win (If it's nuclear, nobody wins). Or is it just a load of words that will come to nothing more than a very minor skirmish (relatively) then things will go about exactly the same.

I'm worried, but I'm not screaming doom and gloom yet. I just hope that if there is a war Britain doesn't get into it.

If it's a "ceasefire" then they officially are at war, as no peace treaty was signed (and there indeed wasn't one).

But, I think that the moment N. Korea oversteps, the Chinese are going to step in. They've had pretty much enough of the DRPK antics, and so has Russia.

WouldYouKindly:
China would never back them against the U.S. That would be their only hope of actually winning and it doesn't exist. China is too economically dependent on the U.S. to actually fight us.

That economic dependence is mutual, and it's not like it's fear of the USA that's keeping China from backing DRPK. Both China and Russia are going to be on the same side as USA if something blows up over there, because they are smart enough to not side with stupid.

The South Koreans are doing a military drill and the North shouts back at them to stop or they will attack. Who is the aggressor here? The one sending out satellites into space or the ones showcasing smart missiles that can reach and kill the leader of the other nation?

This is hardly newsworthy.

If someone says that China will not support N. Korea - you're wrong. They had already supported N. Korea for a long time financially and militarily. If a war happens the North will definitely win - they are much, much, much more militarized and the South will be utterly crushed. A nuclear strike is in grey area because the North has some tiny nuclear arsenal - but I think that the North isn't ready for a showdown. They need more tie-breaking munitions before they go to war and we will see how the stability of the administration will be in the future. Sanctions won't go away but the new administration seems more open than the previous, which could possibly lead to the Gorbachev effect.

Glasgow:
If a war happens the North will definitely win - they are much, much, much more militarized and the South will be utterly crushed.

Disagree there. They'd have substantial initial successes, perhaps, but the counter-attack would make quite a mess of them.

thaluikhain:

Glasgow:
If a war happens the North will definitely win - they are much, much, much more militarized and the South will be utterly crushed.

Disagree there. They'd have substantial initial successes, perhaps, but the counter-attack would make quite a mess of them.

We can't argue on this, but I will retain my opinion that the North will crush the South and the USA will not be able to supply enough troops and power to fight them off even if they use their bases in S. Korea, Japan ,Philippines and their Pacific satellites. They are just not geared towards a conflict in the region and until they get ready for a counter offensive South Korea will be gone.

This is only newsworthy due to how specific it was. Usually they just say there will be consequences if there is "further aggression" but this is quite narrow and rare from what I've seen of the DPRK's behavior. I doubt they will deliver on the threat but one must always be wary.

The second they do that is the same second Pyongyang will cease to exist. For every gun they have pointed at Seoul, we have many more, all modern and very functional, used by crews that have experience firing them and are not on the brink of starvation. China cannot risk to support an aggressive actions by the North against the South.

Another Korean war will be extremely brief and very onesided.

Either they are bluff, or the starvation is effecting the higher brain functions of even the high military commanders.

Glasgow:
The South Koreans are doing a military drill and the North shouts back at them to stop or they will attack. Who is the aggressor here? The one sending out satellites into space or the ones showcasing smart missiles that can reach and kill the leader of the other nation?

This is hardly newsworthy.

If someone says that China will not support N. Korea - you're wrong. They had already supported N. Korea for a long time financially and militarily. If a war happens the North will definitely win - they are much, much, much more militarized and the South will be utterly crushed. A nuclear strike is in grey area because the North has some tiny nuclear arsenal - but I think that the North isn't ready for a showdown. They need more tie-breaking munitions before they go to war and we will see how the stability of the administration will be in the future. Sanctions won't go away but the new administration seems more open than the previous, which could possibly lead to the Gorbachev effect.

1. China cannot risk a war with the United States. Not only will it lose all it's economic contracts, it would risk things getting nuclear.

2. North Korea spends a fourth of it's $40 billion economy on it's military. South Korea spends 30.8 BILLION on it's military. North Korea's yearly flight time for it's pilots in it's most advanced fighters (which are about a decade old) is 10 hours. NATO nations have required yearly flight times of 200 hours. North Korean soldiers stationed on the border are on average 6 inches shorter than the ones from the South, their growth stunted by the constant famine.

Not G. Ivingname:

Glasgow:
The South Koreans are doing a military drill and the North shouts back at them to stop or they will attack. Who is the aggressor here? The one sending out satellites into space or the ones showcasing smart missiles that can reach and kill the leader of the other nation?

This is hardly newsworthy.

If someone says that China will not support N. Korea - you're wrong. They had already supported N. Korea for a long time financially and militarily. If a war happens the North will definitely win - they are much, much, much more militarized and the South will be utterly crushed. A nuclear strike is in grey area because the North has some tiny nuclear arsenal - but I think that the North isn't ready for a showdown. They need more tie-breaking munitions before they go to war and we will see how the stability of the administration will be in the future. Sanctions won't go away but the new administration seems more open than the previous, which could possibly lead to the Gorbachev effect.

1. China cannot risk a war with the United States. Not only will it lose all it's economic contracts, it would risk things getting nuclear.

2. North Korea spends a fourth of it's $40 billion economy on it's military. South Korea spends 30.8 BILLION on it's military. North Korea's yearly flight time for it's pilots in it's most advanced fighters (which are about a decade old) is 10 hours. NATO nations have required yearly flight times of 200 hours. North Korean soldiers stationed on the border are on average 6 inches shorter than the ones from the South, their growth stunted by the constant famine.

China has the nuclear deterrent as well, but it is not able to fight against the USA right now. It's waiting for the Iran war.

South Korea has a lot of fancy gadgets but North Korea will be able to send more and more troops, essentially making the battlefield a meat grinder. They have low-grade equipment and pretty old war tactics but they nailed infantry and could easily demolish the border towns and cities of South Korea as well as swarming the border. They will lose any shred of air superiority but the terrain allows for war to go down in the border region, hitting South Korea hard and as allied forces move into N. Korea they already have some presents waiting for them... They had decades to prepare for a defensive war. Shit, I said I won't discuss this because it'll be a pain in the ass to try and assess the two armies as they clash in a hypothetical situation. Anyway, this will defiantly be a MAD situation for both Koreas.

Glasgow:
If a war happens the North will definitely win - they are much, much, much more militarized and the South will be utterly crushed.

I have considerable doubts.

NK's hopelessly impoverished state means their military equipment is hopelessly archaic 50-70s tech with a few mods, or untested homegrown designs, and so on. It's well know their air force is in a particularly parlous state - they barely even train their pilots, and the majority of their planes were designs retired 30 years ago by the likes of the USSR. We know full wel air superiority is vital to modern warfare, and even with their considerable numerical superiority, this sort of deficit is crippling. They'd also need to win very quickly: if they can barely even fuel their basic needs on a good month, they can hardly have the resources to fight a protracted war which would require buying fuel, supplies, parts from abroad.

If someone says that China will not support N. Korea - you're wrong.

From my reading of current affairs, it is strongly suspected that China has barely any influence over NK any more, and now regards it as a source of threat and problematic regional instability. It's only interest might be keeping the USA and allies out of its back yard, but NK is so broken that SK taking it over would probably still be the lesser evil. China surely has very little interest whatsoever in a hopelessly backward, isolationist, dysfunctional and downright crazy/dangerous regime destroying a highly profitable, stable trade partner.

What I think more likely is that if China would "support" NK, it would do so only so far as ensuring it retained independence, whilst also using the opportunity to enforce regime change that allowed NK to become a modernised, China-dependent ally.

Glasgow:

Not G. Ivingname:

Glasgow:
The South Koreans are doing a military drill and the North shouts back at them to stop or they will attack. Who is the aggressor here? The one sending out satellites into space or the ones showcasing smart missiles that can reach and kill the leader of the other nation?

This is hardly newsworthy.

If someone says that China will not support N. Korea - you're wrong. They had already supported N. Korea for a long time financially and militarily. If a war happens the North will definitely win - they are much, much, much more militarized and the South will be utterly crushed. A nuclear strike is in grey area because the North has some tiny nuclear arsenal - but I think that the North isn't ready for a showdown. They need more tie-breaking munitions before they go to war and we will see how the stability of the administration will be in the future. Sanctions won't go away but the new administration seems more open than the previous, which could possibly lead to the Gorbachev effect.

1. China cannot risk a war with the United States. Not only will it lose all it's economic contracts, it would risk things getting nuclear.

2. North Korea spends a fourth of it's $40 billion economy on it's military. South Korea spends 30.8 BILLION on it's military. North Korea's yearly flight time for it's pilots in it's most advanced fighters (which are about a decade old) is 10 hours. NATO nations have required yearly flight times of 200 hours. North Korean soldiers stationed on the border are on average 6 inches shorter than the ones from the South, their growth stunted by the constant famine.

China has the nuclear deterrent as well, but it is not able to fight against the USA right now. It's waiting for the Iran war.

South Korea has a lot of fancy gadgets but North Korea will be able to send more and more troops, essentially making the battlefield a meat grinder. They have low-grade equipment and pretty old war tactics but they nailed infantry and could easily demolish the border towns and cities of South Korea as well as swarming the border. They will lose any shred of air superiority but the terrain allows for war to go down in the border region, hitting South Korea hard and as allied forces move into N. Korea they already have some presents waiting for them... They had decades to prepare for a defensive war. Shit, I said I won't discuss this because it'll be a pain in the ass to try and assess the two armies as they clash in a hypothetical situation. Anyway, this will defiantly be a MAD situation for both Koreas.

There two things that are negating North Koreas massive manpower advantage, the ability to move troops and the condition of the troops.

North Korea has little oil, the bit they do have is all but gifts from China. That means little for troop transportation. The only reliable from of transportation within the country are trains. Trains which rely on there tracks to not be bombed into non-existence (which will be easy, since, as you said, North Korea will not have any form of air superiority). Which means the North Korean army is going to be walking. You know how long it takes a human to move from one place to another on foot? A day's journey on foot is a "drive to the store to get milk" via car. As you said yourself, they are going to meet well prepared and well defended positions. Look back to WW1. What happened when mass troops met machine gun nests?

North Korean troops themselves are poorly equipped, poorly fed, only training is bayonetting the occasional prisoner, and may not of been given any ammo. They may see the war as a great chance for mass defecting to the place where they can actually EAT.

if you really want to know how China views north korea read the US diplomatic cables leaks (or at least try and find a summery online concerning China and north korea relations).

and no China doesn't want war on the Korean peninsula.

what they actually want is a stable, reunified, Democratic & Capitalist Korea with Seoul as its capital (as in "the South" take over running the whole thing) on their land border for rather obvious economically advantageous reasons...nor do they want war with the US /facepalm...

Glasgow:

Not G. Ivingname:

Glasgow:
The South Koreans are doing a military drill and the North shouts back at them to stop or they will attack. Who is the aggressor here? The one sending out satellites into space or the ones showcasing smart missiles that can reach and kill the leader of the other nation?

This is hardly newsworthy.

If someone says that China will not support N. Korea - you're wrong. They had already supported N. Korea for a long time financially and militarily. If a war happens the North will definitely win - they are much, much, much more militarized and the South will be utterly crushed. A nuclear strike is in grey area because the North has some tiny nuclear arsenal - but I think that the North isn't ready for a showdown. They need more tie-breaking munitions before they go to war and we will see how the stability of the administration will be in the future. Sanctions won't go away but the new administration seems more open than the previous, which could possibly lead to the Gorbachev effect.

1. China cannot risk a war with the United States. Not only will it lose all it's economic contracts, it would risk things getting nuclear.

2. North Korea spends a fourth of it's $40 billion economy on it's military. South Korea spends 30.8 BILLION on it's military. North Korea's yearly flight time for it's pilots in it's most advanced fighters (which are about a decade old) is 10 hours. NATO nations have required yearly flight times of 200 hours. North Korean soldiers stationed on the border are on average 6 inches shorter than the ones from the South, their growth stunted by the constant famine.

China has the nuclear deterrent as well, but it is not able to fight against the USA right now. It's waiting for the Iran war.

South Korea has a lot of fancy gadgets but North Korea will be able to send more and more troops, essentially making the battlefield a meat grinder. They have low-grade equipment and pretty old war tactics but they nailed infantry and could easily demolish the border towns and cities of South Korea as well as swarming the border. They will lose any shred of air superiority but the terrain allows for war to go down in the border region, hitting South Korea hard and as allied forces move into N. Korea they already have some presents waiting for them... They had decades to prepare for a defensive war. Shit, I said I won't discuss this because it'll be a pain in the ass to try and assess the two armies as they clash in a hypothetical situation. Anyway, this will defiantly be a MAD situation for both Koreas.

China currently has 155 nuclear warheads, of which only a third can even reach the US, and those are technically not even nuclear weapons since the warheads are stored seperately from the missiles. The US alone on the other hand has 1700 launch-ready nuclear missiles in reach plus other UN members that would side with them againt China. And I'm not even going into effectiveness and plutonium availability, other areas where China lags behind quite a bit.
Nobody's gonna go nuclear but let's say if someone were to win a nuclear battle it's definitely not the Red Army.
But also, China won't back North Korea in an open war simply because they are sick of them and only still support them to keep them away from themselves. They may still officially support them but there is simply no reason for them to risk everything in a pointless battle against the entire UN forces.

EDIT: For some corrections of that estimate see my next post.
The DPRK has about 1 million active military personnel with 8 million reserve and let's say 10 million other draftable inhabitants. That's 19 million out of 24 million inhabitants, quite a force. But consider that 60% of the North Korean population is in constant starvation. That's 11 million already weakened soldiers.
Then also considers that this being probably the most isolated country in the world they have considerably small war reserves of fuel and food, estimations point to about a hundred days worth of full-on war supplies. Probably more though considering they'll get their crappy airforce blown out of the sky in days, leaving their ground vehicles open for bombardmend. Not to mention their hopelessly outdated small navy that, due to obvious geographical reasons, is devided into two fleets that can't support each other without crossing the whole Korean peninsula, straight through South Korean and Japanese territory.
You save a lot of fuel if you haven't got anything left to use it for.

Now let's not forget the DPRK has 700 artillery cannon bunkers pointing at Seoul ready to fire. But Seoul has its own artillery and can retaliate within minutes. Also note that, considering the Yeonpyong Do incident in 2010, the dud rate for their outdated artillery batteries (their newest one is the self-built M-1992 120mm, but some of their pieces go back all the way to the 50s) was about 25%, then 25% of those 700 artilleries would be held back as a reserve, the simple fact that their ammunition resupply is awful and the estimate that the immediate reaction of defense forces will take out one gun per hour, probably even more once the US gets their big toys going, it's looking a lot better than the North would like.
Also note that 70% of foreigners in the Seoul area are Chinese, including diplomats, high-ranking party-members' family and company headquarters, so the Chinese gouvernment would most likely not be thrilled to join the DPRK.

And about nuclear warfare... currently, due to their shitty USSR missile technology and the size of their fission warheads they can at best reach up to some parts of Japan. Which is unfortunately considering Tokio would love to join in when it comes to bashing the crazy Japanese-abducting missile-"misfiring" neighbour.
And not forget the US 7th fleet, stationed in Japan and Guam, the "largest U.S. numbered fleet with 60-70 ships, 200-300 aircraft and approximately 40,000 Sailors and Marines operating in the region on a typical day". If North Korea even so much as coughs over the border the South can have destroyers, landing ships, subs and a carrier to watch their back within hours. And that's only what's already in the area, nothing of NATO troops (the Russian Pacific Fleet with 5 destroyers, a cruiser and a lot of subs isn't that far away), further US fleets (parts of 3rd or 5th fleet could be there in a few days), the Japanese (second-largest navy in Asia), or other MNNA countries.

Indeed the DPRK's best bet would be a zerg rush (across the biggest mine field in the world, no less) and a lot of dirty warfare for an early edge. They do have a nasty chemical and biological arsenal and apparently even EMP bombs, GPS jammers and a non-lethal blinding weapon banned by the UN for being too... permanently effective. But in any way there is no way they can be successful in the long run.
And the North knows that, its leaders won't give up their privilege positions in a pointless war. So it's not going to happen either way.

... well, that was a lot. You don't need to respond, but I hope at least someone was interested in my facts.

Why is a significant population of this thread presuming tht China is just itching to get into a war with the US? What exactly could China stand to gain? Hell, China is more dependent of the US and vice-versa, it would basically be suicide.

N. Korea actually starting a war would also be suicide, as China would immediately abandon any sort of anything with them, closely followed by Russia. Then it would effectively be every other nation on Earth again N. Korea. Not the best of odds.

Da Orky Man:
Why is a significant population of this thread presuming tht China is just itching to get into a war with the US? What exactly could China stand to gain? Hell, China is more dependent of the US and vice-versa, it would basically be suicide.

some peoples view of humanity is so low they think conflict is inevitable and their world view doesn't function very well without a "big bad" lined up to fight against.

the truth is we are living in the most peaceful period in all of human history and we have been getting progressively more and more peaceful over the millennia. it might not seem that way because of the modern sensationalist 24hr news media but we are: http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html

China is solely focused on serving China (in the Confucianist sense of conducting good, calm governance).

such territorial disputes as they have are only around those parts of the world they consider historically Chinese. that's a fairly small limited set of disputes beyond what assuredly actually is China and has been for a very long time. in thousands of years of history as a state they have almost never sought expansionist war unlike "the European powers", their Japanese neighbours (seeking to emulate the Europeans) and the US colonists (who were Europeans).

they have however spent a lot of historically notable time periods fighting each other...you might have noticed that from various video games/films/books...this is a country that, as well as having a long history of very centralised government, also conversely has a long history of "civil wars"...they even had "warlords" as late as the 1920s...and the fallout of those times has basically culturally emphasised the desire for stability as that which the Chinese seek above all else as a unified nation and it is seen to be the that on which all else precariously rests. this is why "may you live in interesting times..." is said to be a Chinese curse (although no one knows where that particular phrase actually comes from because it's not in common usage in China as is often suggested).

war is virtually the antithesis of stability.

the Chinese do not want war.

some people are trying to make a big deal about the military modernisation program being conducted with their new-found wealth (also some people seem to take the frankly incredulous starting position that China somehow shouldn't have a military..."what do they need it for ?" they often ask...bear in mind there hardly any countries in existence without a military...even the Swiss have an army...) but the truth is Chinese military spending is between 1.6-1.8% of GDP and has been static at that level for the last decade (taking into account inflation etc) and for the sake of comparison military spending of 2% of GDP is the stated requirement for post cold war NATO membership...in other words they are spending no more than "anyone else" does...except the US which spends 4.7% of GDP...

Glasgow:
China has the nuclear deterrent as well, but it is not able to fight against the USA right now. It's waiting for the Iran war.

South Korea has a lot of fancy gadgets but North Korea will be able to send more and more troops, essentially making the battlefield a meat grinder. They have low-grade equipment and pretty old war tactics but they nailed infantry and could easily demolish the border towns and cities of South Korea as well as swarming the border. They will lose any shred of air superiority but the terrain allows for war to go down in the border region, hitting South Korea hard and as allied forces move into N. Korea they already have some presents waiting for them... They had decades to prepare for a defensive war. Shit, I said I won't discuss this because it'll be a pain in the ass to try and assess the two armies as they clash in a hypothetical situation. Anyway, this will defiantly be a MAD situation for both Koreas.

China's main goal right now is the increase of military and economic influence through modernization. This requires plenty of Capitol; most of which they currently receive from exporting goods to the US and other western nations. China has little to lose if North Korea was to go bye-bye. Its not beneficial from a practical or a ideological standpoint for them but it is certainly not as bad as a war with the United States, South Korea, Japan, the ROC, and a good deal of western nations to boot. The Chinese are much smarter then that.

As for the actual war you have to realize that war and it's practice has changed considerably since the 1950s. Conventional war is mechanized in nature and this gives a great advantage to whoever has "a lot of fancy gadgets". Consider the first Gulf War and the Battle of 73 Easting. The American and British Force in this battle did not just defeat their foe, but they utterly crushed them. This was possible due to the superior armored vehicles and training of the Coalition compared to those of the Republican Guard. This is very important as the armored vehicles and disparity of training between the forces would be quite similar in a Korean conflict as the Korean People's Army uses equipment that is essentially on par with what the Iraqis used and the RoK Army uses equipment that is more advanced then what the US was packing 20 years ago.

In addition to this someone else mentioned the North's reliance on trains in their Logistics; this is true. After a very brief air war the South Koreans and US would have open season on switching stations, supply dumps, and basically anything that could put a bee in the North Korean bonnet. Add the fact that the North would probably be moving their forces over relatively small areas of land that are clear of mines on the DMZ and you have a possiblity for another Highway of Death; again, like the first Gulf War. This would basically cut off any forces south of the DMZ from the already meager supplies of fuel and any ammo dumps in the North. This would mean even if the DPRK gained tactical superiority anywhere they could be more or less starved out.

Pretty sure China has already stated they won't be backing N. Korea if they instigate the conflict. They'll help defend N. Korea in the event they are attacked, but not the other way around. And the way China has been acting lately is like a sober wingman slowly backing away from his drunk friend screaming about how he'll kill everyone in the room. For lack of a funnier analogy on my part. (It's REALLY late.)

Quaxar:

The DPRK has about 1 million active military personnel with 8 million reserve and let's say 10 million other draftable inhabitants. That's 19 million out of 24 million inhabitants, quite a force. But consider that 60% of the North Korean population is in constant starvation. That's 11 million already weakened soldiers.

Historically, it has taken states superhuman efforts to even draft 20% of their population into military service, never mind 75%. Examples of around there or above are France by 1918, or Germany by 1945, and Germany had started conscripting unsuitable candidates by 1944.

In a fairly average country, about half the population is female (who conventionally do not fight); an eighth are boys and an eighth old men, both groups largely unfit to fight. That leaves men aged around 16-50, about a quarter of the population - and even then plenty will invalidated by infirmity ot occupying essential non-military jobs.

Consequently, there is simply no way that NK's reserve is even 8 million; that total might possibly represent nothing more than adult males not already in the army (who we presume have done some form of conscription service). It's very questionable whether they are still capable of making any sort of effective fighting force: you are after all dead right that NK's problems will have ensured that many have probably suffered or are suffering some degree of malnutrition and related illness. It's also highly questionable that the state has arms and equipment to give them.

* * *

Funnily enough, I think there's another reason NK wouldn't want to attack. To invade SK and allow the army/population to see the wealth of their neighbours would make it impossible hide that the regime had driven NK into the dirt, that it is a hopelessly impoverished, backward nation. I'm not sure the regime could survive the people learning reality.

ToastiestZombie:
I'm worried, but I'm not screaming doom and gloom yet. I just hope that if there is a war Britain doesn't get into it.

Hahaha, good luck with that. We're a faded former superpower desperately trying to pretend we aren't, so we'll continue sticking our dick into everyone else's business until we finally accept that we don't have an Empire anymore. If there is a war, we'll probably thrust ourselves into it on the basis of being older and wiser and, in inference at least, better than anyone else.

"The worst thing about being a great power is when you're not one any more. It takes centuries to get over it." - Ben Elton, Blast From The Past

Quaxar:
... well, that was a lot. You don't need to respond, but I hope at least someone was interested in my facts.

I really appreciated that, thanks. My knowledge of the subject is not particularly deep (being gleaned mostly from media portrayals, so South Korea = good, North Korea = bugfuck crazy, China = largely inscrutable) and so I found your analysis interesting. Cheers!

Agema:

Quaxar:

The DPRK has about 1 million active military personnel with 8 million reserve and let's say 10 million other draftable inhabitants. That's 19 million out of 24 million inhabitants, quite a force. But consider that 60% of the North Korean population is in constant starvation. That's 11 million already weakened soldiers.

Historically, it has taken states superhuman efforts to even draft 20% of their population into military service, never mind 75%. Examples of around there or above are France by 1918, or Germany by 1945, and Germany had started conscripting unsuitable candidates by 1944.

In a fairly average country, about half the population is female (who conventionally do not fight); an eighth are boys and an eighth old men, both groups largely unfit to fight. That leaves men aged around 16-50, about a quarter of the population - and even then plenty will invalidated by infirmity ot occupying essential non-military jobs.

Consequently, there is simply no way that NK's reserve is even 8 million; that total might possibly represent nothing more than adult males not already in the army (who we presume have done some form of conscription service). It's very questionable whether they are still capable of making any sort of effective fighting force: you are after all dead right that NK's problems will have ensured that many have probably suffered or are suffering some degree of malnutrition and related illness. It's also highly questionable that the state has arms and equipment to give them.

* * *

Funnily enough, I think there's another reason NK wouldn't want to attack. To invade SK and allow the army/population to see the wealth of their neighbours would make it impossible hide that the regime had driven NK into the dirt, that it is a hopelessly impoverished, backward nation. I'm not sure the regime could survive the people learning reality.

I might have overestimated a bit, yeah, but I did write that at 1 in the morning.
Let me revise a little: Here's a neat defense breakdown, which puts the available manpower to approximately half of the total population. So going by that I overshot quite some length.

Active military at 1,1 million, that means currently conscripted people aged 18-25 and KPA soldiers. The DPRK military is complex though, there is a mandatory 3-5 year service for all males and selected females (a no-fat-chicks policy?), however you will also be excluded for not being loyal enough to the party. And if you want to actually serve in the KPA, this being a great honour for you and your family, there's three different security investigations to determine your Songbun.
Active reserve means all those that have finished their 3-5 years in the forces and maybe your 10 years or more in the KPA, plus some that were exempt from the draft. They stay reservists until age 40 (or 30 for single women), receiving 500 training hours per year and individual weapons for a majority.
And after finishing the reserve everyone moves up to the paramilitary Worker-Peasant Red Guards until age 60, with 160 training hours yearly, individual arms for all and a homeland defense focus.
And let's not forget the Red Guard Youth and College Training Units with 4 hours a week of training, where you actually start your career at around 15 years of age before you get drafted.

See here for some detailed description of each area with outdated numbers. Even Nazi Germany draft is nothing to what the DPRK could potentially mobilize. That is if they had the infrastructure or, you know, the resources to supply them, and of course one should also mention that their whole military training is very much limited by the fact that, because resources are so scarce and saved for war, there is as little ammunition and fuel consumption involved as humanly possible.
So I believe we're somewhere in between our estimates. 19 is definitely too much, but under 8 probably too low.

Quaxar:

So I believe we're somewhere in between our estimates. 19 is definitely too much, but under 8 probably too low.

I can find that the NK reserves break down into 3 categories:

1) Reserve Military Training Unit (active reserves of fight age) - 1.7 million.
2) The Worker-Peasant Militia (oldsters) - 4.1 million
3) Young Red Guards (kids) - 1.2 million

Realistically, only category 1 would be useful reservists in terms of conventional warfare.

Categories 2 & 3 are at the most optimistic a low grade militia - handing a gun to anyone able to carry it. It's questionable whether they'd be any use at all outside of the most rudimentary home defence duties, and more likely to stop an enemy by their dead bodies clogging up the tank tracks.

Or to summarise, I'd agree that 8 million "theoretical" or "nominal" reserves seems accurate. Effective reserves, a small fraction of that.

SonicWaffle:
being gleaned mostly from media portrayals, so South Korea = good, North Korea = bugfuck crazy, China = largely inscrutable

South Korea isn't good so much as not North Korea, mind. They've got all sorts of issues that the west overlooks due to them being an ally against NK.

Obviously, NK is wanting to use its nuclear weapons as leverage to get more aid handouts from the West so the regime can be supported- as well as attain nuclear immunity from invasion, so its hardly surprising they're being more disruptive now that they're doing nuclear weapons testing. The NK generals must know that their armies will be annihilated by SK and US forces given the technological gap, so now they're following a strategy of nuclear deterrence and leverage.

Assuming the North Korean regime is "rational", it will never provoke a war against the south because in doing so it will mean annihilation. I don't think South Korea is looking for a war either, because its civilian population will be targeted by North Korean artillery, chemical and possibly nuclear weapons. And even in defeating and occupying North Korea, the sheer scale of challenge of re-intergrating the north will be off-putting. Hence, the current state of affairs could last for good many decades into the future, but who knows? Politics is full of surprises.

thaluikhain:

SonicWaffle:
being gleaned mostly from media portrayals, so South Korea = good, North Korea = bugfuck crazy, China = largely inscrutable

South Korea isn't good so much as not North Korea, mind. They've got all sorts of issues that the west overlooks due to them being an ally against NK.

Yeah, we tend to do that. For some reason an integral part of Western foreign policy is picking who we consider the lesser of two evils and then somehow being surprised when they later turn out to be shifty dickbags :-P

Nickolai77:
I don't think South Korea is looking for a war either, because its civilian population will be targeted by North Korean artillery, chemical and possibly nuclear weapons. And even in defeating and occupying North Korea, the sheer scale of challenge of re-intergrating the north will be off-putting. Hence, the current state of affairs could last for good many decades into the future, but who knows? Politics is full of surprises.

Apparently a lot of people in SK, military and civilian, are pro-war. The US has to stop SK-ers going north as well as NK-ers going south...doesn't take many hotheads to cause an incident that could lead to something worse.

Agema:

Quaxar:

So I believe we're somewhere in between our estimates. 19 is definitely too much, but under 8 probably too low.

I can find that the NK reserves break down into 3 categories:

1) Reserve Military Training Unit (active reserves of fight age) - 1.7 million.
2) The Worker-Peasant Militia (oldsters) - 4.1 million
3) Young Red Guards (kids) - 1.2 million

Realistically, only category 1 would be useful reservists in terms of conventional warfare.

Categories 2 & 3 are at the most optimistic a low grade militia - handing a gun to anyone able to carry it. It's questionable whether they'd be any use at all outside of the most rudimentary home defence duties, and more likely to stop an enemy by their dead bodies clogging up the tank tracks.

Or to summarise, I'd agree that 8 million "theoretical" or "nominal" reserves seems accurate. Effective reserves, a small fraction of that.

I suppose you're going by globalsecurity.org numbers? I wonder why i didn't find that last time I looked... a lot better than my articles from the 90s.
And yeah, at best they'll use the reserve as a back-line force and support for their actual army and the rest as home defense and cannon fodder once it turns bad for them.

One can't help but notice that their entire strategy is defensive. Tank barriers, bunkers, camouflage, explosive charges along important border routes...
Their Air Force is heavily reliant on hiding in underground hangars and protection by their anti-aircraft ground units since being in enemy airspace up against much better pilots and fighters wouldn't do them much good and the Navy is so outdated, the only thing their subs, mostly 50s Soviet diesel-engine Romeo class or self-made one-man devices, are good for is laying mines and blocking advances, that is until the US 7th fleet arrives with minesweepers and LA class attack submarines to blow them out of the water.

I'd say their first losses are actually the Navy, considering all the other big naval forces they'd be up against. Air superiority shortly after, although bombardment of the North would be tricky with all the camouflaged anti-aircraft artillery and bunkered facilities. But in any case there is no way they can get south over the demilitarized zone without massive losses of vehicles. They might have invasion tunnels, wouldn't be the first time they tried, but surely not for tanks.
The DPRK wants war declared on them, only then do they even have a chance China will support them and only inside their own territory do they have any advantage over the far superior enemy.

thaluikhain:

Nickolai77:
I don't think South Korea is looking for a war either, because its civilian population will be targeted by North Korean artillery, chemical and possibly nuclear weapons. And even in defeating and occupying North Korea, the sheer scale of challenge of re-intergrating the north will be off-putting. Hence, the current state of affairs could last for good many decades into the future, but who knows? Politics is full of surprises.

Apparently a lot of people in SK, military and civilian, are pro-war. The US has to stop SK-ers going north as well as NK-ers going south...doesn't take many hotheads to cause an incident that could lead to something worse.

That appears to be the case from a poll conducted after the shelling of Yeonpyeong island, which altered attitudes considerably towards pro-war rather than peace.[1] I can't blame the South Koreans for being angry. If they're willing to pay the price for annihilating the North Korean regime then they have my respect.

I love how some people think that china never left the cold war and is still the defender of North Korea, from what i understand China would be very happy to see a regime change, it just wouldnt be happy about the US troops so close to the border but i think they see that as the lesser evil

Technically korea is still in a war, its just been on a back banner because of the cease fire. If KJU wnats to do that thats fine. I dont know many countries that would support his decision and jump to his side, least of all China or Russia (since the former cant lose the US as a trade partner without collapsing in on itself and the latter is barely about a third world country with its economy and planes falling out of the damn sky). He thinks his country can fight a war with four (technically five) of the biggest or most well equiped armies and all he has to say is he has a nuke, which may not even work. Bomb the hell out of it, put the collective UN in charge to form it up with democracy and eventually unite the Koreas and just stop all of this.

... of couse i know you cant just do that (sadly) so it wont happen.

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