The fiercest Chihuahua, ever, barks loudest

North Korean military honour guard standing to attention at Pyongyang's airport during a diplomatic visit. Photograph: Stephen Shaver/AFP/Getty Images

North Korean military honour guard standing to attention at Pyongyang’s airport during a diplomatic visit. (Stephen Shaver/AFP/Getty Images)


B
y Hans vonBeavis
Senior North Korean analyst/train spotter

There’s something gruesome, yet fascinating, about North Korea, something akin to watching The Walking Dead or NASCAR accidents. It’s probably why professional freak Dennis Rodman likes Kim Jong Un, the untested, pasty, 30-year-old leader who doesn’t yet have an official state moniker like his father (Dear Leader) or his grandfather (Great Leader.)

"Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." Like father, like son. (Getty Images)

“Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il, left, and plumpy son Kim Jong Un, yet to be titled. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss– Like father, like son. (Getty Images)

NK makes a lot of threatening noises, like a tiny, angry dog barking at lions. It’s gotten to a point of concern such that their last Cold War patron, China, openly criticized them last month at the United Nations.  NK keeps threatening to pull the pin on a grenade if they don’t get what they want.

NK is the only communist dynasty in history. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which is neither democratic nor a republic, has done this since the armistice of 1953 that ended the Korean War. It’s been much propaganda and, fortunately, little action. Beyond incendiary rhetoric, their periodic acts of bloodletting read like episodes of a military crime drama: seizing an US Navy spy ship in the 1968 Pueblo Incident; the axe murder of two US Army Soldiers in the 1976 Tree Chopping Incident; the sinking of the corvette ROKS Cheonan (PCC-772) and the shelling of Yeonpyeong island in the spring and fall of 2010, respectively.

Like his Stalinist regime, this fighter jet featured at March, 2013 review by KJU appears to be a 1955 Soviet Sukoi-7, called the Fitter by NATO. It was supposed to be a fighter, but Sukoi-ed so much it was relagated to ground support and training purposes ... or passed along to the North Koreans by the Russians. They have recent aircraft, but this is what KJU's generals chose to showcase during their version of March Madness. (Korean News Agency)

Like his Stalinist regime, this 60-plus-year-old fighter jet was reviewed in March by KJU. It appears to be a 1955 Soviet Sukoi-7, designated “Fitter” by NATO. It was designed to be a fighter, but it Sukoi-ed so much it was relegated to ground support and training purposes … or handed down as military aid to communist countries like North Korea.  NK has a few more recent aircraft, but this is what KJU’s generals showcased in press releases during their version of March Madness. (KCNA)

Their nuclear weapons and multi-stage rocket tests makes NK theoretically scary, but western physicists say the nukes fizzled and their scientists haven’t figured out how miniaturize them to warhead-size, and their intercontinental ballistic missiles that repeatedly failed and did little more than motivate Japan to take mitigating steps only barely managed, last December, to put a basic Sputnik in orbit.

In this photo released in March, 2013, KJU is supposedly getting a look at thelatest combat and technical equipment, made by unit 1501 of the Korean People's Army," March 24, 2013. The rest of the world scratches its head and says: "Really?" Love the retro radar antenna. (KCNA)

In this photo released in March,  KJU supposedly gets a look at the “latest combat and technical equipment, made by unit 1501 of the Korean People’s Army,” according to their press release.  Note the retro radar antenna.  The rest of the technically advanced world scratches its head and says: “Really?” (KCNA)

Last month they cut the diplomatic hotlines to the ROK, US military and Red Cross, declared the ceasefire of 1953 negated, and attacked NATO forces with their favorite weapon … harsh language that comes straight from a bad comic. Only they may believe it. 

North Korean soldiers march during a massive military parade marking the 65th anniversary of the communist nation's ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang. The reclusive Stalinist regime has a fetish for making uniformed women wear short skirts, from traffic cops to soldiers. (Vincent Yu / AP)

North Korean soldiers march during a massive military parade marking the 65th anniversary of the communist nation’s ruling Workers’ Party in Pyongyang. The reclusive Stalinist regime has a fetish for making uniformed women wear short skirts, from traffic cops to soldiers. (Vincent Yu / AP)

“North Korean threats of provocations will only further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in Northeast Asia,” said Army Lt. Col. Cathy Wilkinson, Pentagon.

Even the Chinese, trying to hold NK in check, joined the UN resolution smacking the north with further sanctions. The Chinese are a patient people, especially with prodigal NK, but this time the barking resulted in a rolled up newspaper on the snout.

Meanwhile, a joint-Korean industrial zone in Kaesong on the northern side of the demilitarized zone provides KJU with about $2 billion in hard currency annually, was still open for business until April 3. They also take in about $80 million in worker’s wages, which go to the state instead of the NK employees. They don’t advertise to their people that they’re happy to take dollars from the Yankee Devils. The north barred entry for 484 ROK workers scheduled to work in Kaesong today. This upped tension on the Korean peninsula while simultaneously threatening one of their own few sources of income.  That’s too bad, because with Egyptian scratch (until the Arab Srping, when the Egyptians had other matters to attend to) they finally got the 105-story, monolithic, white elephant Ryugyong Hotel, a few steps closer to completion. That project began in 1987 and languished for decades after NK went bust and millions reportedly starved to death in the 1990s.

Until recently when a telecommunications company pumped money into the construction site, this ugly hunk of concrete crowned by a rusted old crane was so embarrassing that NK pretended it wasn't there in stamps and posters. It dominates the Pyongyang skyline through the smoggy haze. (undcredited photo)

Until recently, when an Egyptian telecommuni-cations company pumped money into the construction site, this ugly hunk of concrete crowned by a rusted old crane was so embarrassing that NK pretended it wasn’t there in tours, stamps and posters. It dominates the Pyongyang skyline through the smoggy haze. (undcredited photo)

This looks like a scene from the remake of "Red Dawn," but it is North Korean soldiers with weapons attending military training in "an undisclosed location" in this picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency in Pyongyang, on March 11, 2013. (Reuters/KCNA) #

This looks like a scene from the remake of “Red Dawn,” but it is North Korean soldiers with weapons attending military training in “an undisclosed location” in this picture released by the North’s official KCNA news agency in Pyongyang, on March 11, 2013. (KCNA)

“What else can they do? Actually start a war?” said Yang Moo-jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. “Not answering the phone and saying the armistice is not valid any more, that’s what they can do and they’ve done this before.”

NK’s weapons technology is obsolete. Their latest main battle tank is a modified version of a 1970’s Russian T-72, the same tank that got plastered by American M-1 Abrams MBTs in the first Iraq war. And the Iraqi T-72’s had been able to afford superior upgrades, although it ultimately did them no good. The aged NK MBTs face the ROK’s state-of-the-art K-1 tank.

A columm of modified Soviet T-72s do what they do best in NK--parade. This tank, which entered production in 1970, is the KPA's main battle tank. In the first Persian Gulf war, Iraqi T-72s with superior modifications were no match for the American M-1 MBT, and the ROK has a new MBT, the K-1, now in service. (KCNA)

A column of modified Soviet T-72s do what they do best in NK–parade. This tank, which entered production in 1970, is the KPA’s main battle tank. In the first Persian Gulf war, Iraqi T-72s with superior modifications were no match for the American M-1 MBT, and the ROK has a new MBT, the K-1, now in service. (KCNA)

NK has beau coup soldiers, sailors, airmen and special forces, with up to a million along the DMZ, always ready to go, but nothing near to par as compared to the fictional NK warriors in the film “Olympus has Fallen.” Spetsnaz they ain’t.

This is the world's most bizarre tourist attraction: Panmunjon, the so-called peace village in the DMZ. Bus loads of tourists gawk daily at unsmiling NK soldiers, while their counterpart tourists do the same from the north. Groups, like the ones the author joined, walk around a table, enter and exit NK without ever leaving the blue building in the center. NK doesn't allow that for fear of defectors, like Soviet Union tourist Vasily Matusak did on November 23, 1984. That dash turned into a shooting match, killing one ROK and one US soldier, three NK soldiers, with another five NK troops injured and eight captured. (US Army photo)

This is the world’s most bizarre tourist attraction: Panmunjon, the so-called peace village in the DMZ. Busloads of tourists gawk daily at unsmiling NK soldiers, while counterpart tourists do the same from the northern side. The author walked around a negociation table, thereby entering and exiting NK without ever leaving one of the blue buildings. NK doesn’t allow their tourist to circle the table for fear of defectors, like Soviet Union tourist Vasily Matusak did November 23, 1984. That dash turned into a shooting match, killing one ROK and one US soldier, three NK soldiers, with another five NK troops injured and eight captured. (photo taken from the north side and posted online by the DPRK Tours and Information website.)

The biggest danger comes if one of their saber-rattling stunts gets out of hand and the ROK, together with US and other allies, is compelled to respond with such force as to back a desperate KJU into a corner. At that point they may go all Hitler’s bunker and unload their artillery systems on Seoul. It’s a dangerous, diplomatic balancing act and has been for 60 years.

Although this photo was released by NK on March 26, 2013, these appear to be Soviet WWII-vintage Katusha rocket launcher systems. KJU is said to have watched this particular demonstration. (KCNA)ency in Pyongyang on March 26, 2013. (KCNA/REUTERS)

Although this photo was released by NK March 26, these appear to be Soviet WWII-style Katusha rocket launcher systems, an inaccurate means of firing short, violent barrages. It’s good for large targets, like cities, but has no pinpoint capability. This towed series is drawn by vintage NK tractors, not self-propelled.  KJU is said to have watched this particular demonstration. (KCNA)

“While the Korean People’s Army’s capacity to sustain offensive operations beyond days and weeks is questionable, North Korea retains the ability to inflict heavy casualties and collateral damage, largely through the use of massed long-range artillery. In effect, Pyongyang’s most credible conventional threat is to devastate Seoul (and a good portion of South Korea) rather than to seize and hold it.” (2007 Strategic Studies Institute report for the US government)

The Kim Dynasty seems to be the only overweight family in NK. (KCNA photo "enhanced" by QuickMeme.com)

The Kim Dynasty seems to be the only overweight family in NK. (KCNA photo “enhanced” by QuickMeme.com)

KJU isn’t the biggest threat in the world. To conclude the canine metaphor, he’s more like a mean Chihuahua with onset rabies and a spiked collar. He barks, he nips, and someday he may break skin by firing on the 10 million inhabitants of Seoul, plus the US 2nd Infantry Division. That would likely draw the 25th Infantry Division and other US Pacific forces into battle, and Japan’s Self Defense Force, if NK eventually makes a reliable long-range missile.

Along the DMZ, he’ll cause much death and destruction. If it comes to that, the third emperor of the world’s only communist dynasty will join his father and grandfather in the afterlife, sans embalming.

(Economic facts and the quote from Yang Moo-jin are from an article by Jack Kim.)

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