This comes from a nation in which large numbers of citizens are starving and has one part of the economy that is is flat on its back while another part runs on corruption. Its large army is poorly fed, trained and equipped, and would be overrun by the South Koreans in an open fight.
However — and here is where it gets hard to figure out what South Korea, the US and the rest of the world could do to force Pyongyang to behave — in a military strike by South Korea and the US, North Korea’s conventional forces could inflict substantial death and destruction before they were defeated.
Then there is Pyongyang’s nuclear weapon. It will take time before it is ready for military use, but no one knows how long. Once the North Koreans have “weaponized” it, to apply the military jargon, then it is anyone’s guess whether Kim Jong-un will use it.
Richard Halloran is a commentator in Hawaii.