I don’t know what it is about Kim Jong-un that is causing him to get so belligerant to be threatening the tossing of nukes everywhere. The apparent cause of this heated talk is the pretty much routine annual training exercises the that US has with South Korea. Does the Dear Leader feel especially vulnerable at this time or something?
North Korea cannot feed itself properly. It’s socialist/communist economic policies pretty much guarantee that its food production is below the level which makes it possible to survive without food imports. And the country’s recent belligerance (exploding nukes, launching missiles, sinking a South Korean warship, and firing artillery into the South) has caused economic sanctions to be imposed, thus making it more difficult to feed themselves. Ironically, things are so bad in the North that they had to erect fortifications along their border with the Peoples Republic of China, to keep defectors from fleeing into that country, supposedly one of their staunchest allies. Of course, the PRC does not permit apprehended defectors to remain, but they are repatriated to North Korea if they are discovered.
So, what can North Korea do?
Well, they could invade the South. The country has the 4th largest military in the world, with an estimated 1.21 million armed personnel, with about 20% of men aged 17–54 in the regular armed forces. Add in reservists and other non-active-duty personnel, and they could field something like 4 million troops in a pinch. Quite a pinch! But how effective could they be? I don’t know, but I am sure someone does. Or think they do.
The problem is, if they can’t feed themselves adequately in peacetime, wartime is going to make things even worse. I suspect it would be a disaster for them if they were to invade the South, and I’d bet that even they know this. Thus I believe that all this saber-rattling is exactly that: much ado about nothing, or at any rate, they will stop short of actually re-starting the Korean War.
That’s my take on it, at least.