Could N Korea walk over S Korea

I was wondering something from hearing the guys in work talk about how “North Korea would take over the South quickly if the US ever left.” It was my impression that this probably wouldn’t happen and that the South would have a better chance of invading the North and winning instead of vice versa. It’s my understand that it’s around 1million troops in the north version 750,000 in the South but the south has much better equipment since they spent many hundreds of billions of dollars in defense over the past 20 years.(And the north can’t) So realisticly if the North didn’t have nukes or didn’t use them would they have much of a chance of invading the south? The only way I could see it working is with alot of Chinese backing.

Well, being able to predict the outcome of a war before it starts is a bit tricky. There are several factors that affect it.

Troop Numbers
Troop Training

Just to name a few. We can see the first 4 now and because I don’t believe (correct me if I’m wrong) that there are drastic terrain differences between the north and south, both sides are equally used to the terrain and very little benifit could be given to either side.

The last 4 we can’t know until the war starts. Who gets the surprise factor? Probably the north but you can never tell. And the others in this group are also a mystery at this point in time. If I were to make a judgement I’d say 50/50 with it being a long and drawn out war unless the north used nukes, which I doubt they will.

North Korea would easily walk on South Korea. For awhile. But the South is superior so many ways (food, military, population, etc) that they ultimately would win.

The things is North Korea is not urbanized (at least not nearly to the extent South Korea is) Soeul (sp?) is less than 50 miles from the border. It has estimated population from 10-13 MILLION people.

The destruction would be enormous. But in a given one on one war (no US or China etc) the South would ALMOST certainly win EVENTUALLY.

But the thing is the definition of winning. If 10 million of your people are destroyed (of 44 Million) did you really win???

The biggest threat to South Korea is that the North could overrun it entirely in a few days in a blitzkreig attack. The capital is literally within artillary range of the DMZ. The South Korean troops guarding the border know that if the North ever attacks they will die to the last man trying to hold the line; there’s simply nowhere to retreat to. In the past the North has actually dug invasion tunnels under the DMZ, which is hardly reassuring about their peaceful intentions. If it came to war and China did not intervene, the war would be over- one way or another- in two weeks.

he North wopuld win

This fellow disagrees:

Personally I’m inclined to think NK could NOT sweep SK, without considerable luck on their side. The disparity in force is just not that enormous. And I agree with Markxxx that in the long run, SK would inevitably where down NK in a war of attrition.

  • Tamerlane

Citibank_Executive, elcopme to he SDMB!!!

I’ve got a buddy, recently retired military, who was stationed in Korea twice, and has a Korean wife. He’s also went back there to visit after he got out of the service.

He told me that theres no way N Korea could beat S Korea… The ROK has better soldiers, better equipment, and a vastly superior airforce. He said that S Korea has spent the last 50 years preparing the countryside for a N Korean invasion, so that any invading force will be channeled into areas where the ROK has a decisive advantage. They’ve set up tank traps, land mines, and other obstacles.

Another thing one must consider is that S Korea is much more wealthy than N Korea. Logistics would be a major problem for N Korea.

The only thing on the side of N Korea is that they have built tunnels into S Korea, where they could invade and show up behind the front lines of the ROK army. Oh, that and Seoul is close the the DMZ. So N Korea could probably inflict some major damage in the first few days of the war.

It’s one of the very few strategic situations in the world today where land mines are a valid tool of war, and thus (partly) justifies the U.S.'s reluctance to agree to ban mines.

Of course, if the North were able to mount an indirect attack, such as a massive beach invasion at Inchon, then mines would be of no value…

(The previous paragraph, for those who may not know, is a joke… The North couldn’t put such an operation together.)


You summed it up pretty well.

Seoul would be toast. The North Koreans have a HUGE artillery force along the DMZ. Last I heard it was around 10,000 pieces all of which can target Seoul. The report on NPR where I heard this said the North Koreans could pour 500,000 shells per hour into Seoul. Seoul would be flattened in no time (without doing the calculations that amount of firepower must equate to nuke or so an hour).

If those artillery pieces were used on the DMZ itself I would think they could likewise punch a big hole for NK forces to pour through but then again I would assume the South Koreans have taken that into account and are probably well dug in to avoid much damage.

I’d say the North Korean would run amok for the first 100 miles or so into South Korea and then would be stopped and pushed back. Ultimately I think they would lose unless the Chinese intervened again in which case it would be all over for South Korea (but if China comes in then I imagine the US would come in and you’d probably end up with what we’ve got today once more).

What if North Korea went nuclear? I’d think then that all bets are off.

The Artillery is not so much a problem, because the South has much better tactical intelligence than the North through the use of American satellites, U2 flights etc. The minute they opened up on Seoul or elsewhere their positions would likely be bombed into oblivion.

The biggest worry is the Invasion tunnels. Kim Il-Sung order every NK division stationed along the DMZ to build and maintain two tunnels. South Korea has only found 4 of them. They estimate there could be over 20 of such tunnels. They are about 2 meters by 2 meters reinforced with concrete and supplied with electricity and other provisions. My guess is that SK and the US Allies know where more are, but they’re just keeping mum about it… perhaps so they can collapse them at a decisive moment.