Posture - North Korea fields the world's fourth largest army with
1 million men-at-arms, in a country of only 22 million people. The Korean
People's Army is considered to be the vanguard of the revolution, and
now North Korea has adopted a 'Military First' policy that makes the military
the top priority of the nation. North Korea spends 22% of its GDP on military
forces. The North Korean Order
of Battle includes 12 corps, 4 mechanized corps, 2 armored corps,
and 2 artillery corps.
has 30,000 troops in the Seoul area, acting as a 'tripwire' that will
invoke security agreements with the ROK in the event of an invasion.
Weapons: North Korea's acquisition of nuclear weapons is now a fait
accompli. The DPRK has a variety of ICBM and orbit-capable missiles,
based upon a mix of Soviet and chinese designs. Their longest range ICBM
is the Tae'po-Dong 2, see below. The head of the U.S. Defense Intelligence
last week that he believes the DPRK can now arm this missile with
a nuclear weapon, and that it is capable of hitting the U.S.
main nuclear facility is at Yongbyon, located 100km north
of Pyongyang. This reactor has recently
been shut down, leading to suspicions that the regime intends to remove
fissible material from it. It
is estimated that North Korea may have as many as five nuclear weapons.
Regime Collapse? Just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean they
aren't out to get you. Apparently Kim is obsessed with being
deposed by his own people, in the style of Ceaucescu of Romania. Odd,
considering that the national motto is "One is sure to win if
one believes in and depends upon the people." Kim Jong-Il actually
seems to engender genuine affection from much of the population however
(even causing women to 'swoon' in his presence), and polls of his popularity
show wide support for him, even in the face of obvious deprivations. The
North Korean people have some access to radios and south korean videotapes
of popular programming. Their relative poverty compared to the south is
not unknown. North Korea has suffered repeated famines, with the most
serious famine occuring in 1997. There were reports of people resorting
to eating grass, and bark from trees. The United States sends
some 300 million in food aid every year to North Korea, and they are quite
dependent upon it.
Kim Jong-chol, age 23, is reported to be the heir apparent as party chairman.
of the DPRK is a centralized command economy based upon the principle
of 'juche' or self-reliance.
The North Korean economy has essentially collapsed: during the 90's it
had periods of negative economic growth. North Korea is also loosening
the autarky that kept their economy shut out from the world, and is now
engaged in small free-market reforms and trade with China, as well as
in their own cities. North
Korea's economy has failed, yet since the regime has survived widespread
starvation and negative economic growth, it appears that economic collapse,
by itself, it not sufficient to cause the fall of the regime.
There are few options available to stem North Korea's nuclear proliferation.
The DPRK is autarkic and mostly immune from trade sanctions. The one nation
that has real leverage over the DPRK, China, has been reluctant to take
harsh measures against its neighbor. One of the best methods of undermining
the regime would be for China to open the borders and drain North Korea
of its population - but China runs detention camps for defectors and returns
them once they are caught.
picture of the Korean peninsula.