North Korea may seem a bit of a laughing stock sometimes, but it’s also an incredibly militarized society with a 1.2 million strong army — almost double the number of soldiers in South Korea and the fourth largest army in the world by personnel (behind the Pakistan, the US and China).As such, when South Koreans talk about the threat of a North Korean invasion, it’s a scary prospect. Vice has just published a talk with a “South Korean-born NATO soldier with intimate ties to the South Korean Army” who gives a somewhat pessimistic view of what would happen if such an event was to occur:
Tell me plain and simple: How do you think an invasion would all play out and when?
If they ever attacked, the South would definitely own the air, but they’ll pay a severely heavy price. Obviously China and the US would get involved and with the new naval race going on in the Pacific, it would pretty much draw in every country in that area.
The NATO soldier also spells out some of North Korea’s advantages, such as the widespread use of tunnels “wide enough that every hour a whole battalion could be pumped out of it”, bunkers carved deep into the mountains that could survive a nuclear blast, reproduction of Southern military costumes to create confusion, and “long range howitzers on rail lines scaling across peaks that can relentlessly shoot salvos” and dodge returning fire.
Of course, given that this is all from an anonymous source it should all be taken with a pinch of salt. But North Korea does have a history of invasion, and accounts of North Korea’s underground facilities and tunnels have appeared in multiple publications.
Studies seem to support the NATO officers findings too. In one report from 2010 its argued that during the 1990s US military chiefs thought that a surprise invasion by North Korean troops could succeed in capturing Seoul. It was thought that only a significant intervention from the US would liberate the South Korean capital.
Thankfully, the same report concludes that due to economic decline North Korea’s threat of invasion is much lower than in previous decades — though its ability to inflict catastrophic devastation on the South remains.
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