While the North Korea once nearly conquered the South in just a few weeks, today it’s that its military has no hope of defeating its much wealthier and more populous southern neighbor—let alone do so while fighting off U.S. forces. Instead, Pyongyang has built up its capabilities to make a renewed conflict as unacceptably costly to the citizens of its adversaries as possible. This is both to serve as a deterrent from attack, but also as a bargaining chip to boost the impoverished nation’s international clout and leverage economic assistance vital to sustaining its economy, thus keeping the Kim family safely in power.
Sébastien Roblin holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring. This first appeared earlier in 2018.