No one takes nuclear tests by a despotic madman lightly, but one might expect that the object of his disdain and the primary target for his weapons would be a little more concerned.
A recent Gallup Korea poll showed that 58 percent of respondents did not think that there was a possibility of North Korea starting a war. It’s almost the exact opposite compared to the same poll in 2007 after the first North Korean nuclear detonation under Kim Jong il, when 51 percent thought that North Korea would start a war.
Despite all the saber-rattling, ICBMs, inflammatory rhetoric, and artillery set along the border to annihilate Seoul in the event of hostilities, the majority of South Koreans think more about what’s for dinner than what Kim Jong un is doing. The reason why has to do with patterns.
The Kim regime has a pattern of launching missiles, with varying degrees of success (some of that thanks to Russian proxies). But the attitude of the Kim Regime has always been, “You had better watch out for us. You don’t know what we’re made of.”
That’s all well and good, but the world isn’t as blinded by propaganda and media blackout as the North Korean people are. The world sees Kim’s failures as failures, not successes by another measurement. But that’s the hitch, it’s not about the world, it’s about the North Koreans. Kim knows that he still doesn’t have the allegiance that his father enjoyed. He knows he could be replaced, and that the potential for a coup exists. That’s why he went out of the way to get rid of his potential replacement, who happened to be friendly with his biggest benefactor: China. The South Koreans saw that.
North Korea is basically a loose confederation of states controlled by warlords. Those warlords hold positions in the North Korean military, but their loyalties lie with their self-interest. If the warlords think that they can overthrow Kim without too many resources lost on their end, they will. For that reason, Kim is paranoid enough to execute his uncle, who was seen by many as his mentor. The South Koreans saw that too.
As a result, the image seen by the neighbor to the south, is a regime that’s doing all this work on imagery and bluster, instead of feeding its people. And that imagery and bluster has (for now) kept everyone in line, save for a relative or two. As a direct result, South Koreans are happy to go about their daily lives while their neighbor to the north goes crazy. Based upon stress and body mass index alone, he can’t keep this up for long.
Featured image of North Koreans watching Kim Jong-un on TV from KCTV