Korean War Scenarios

It’s unpleasant, but if things do get antsy, then I think a pre-emptive nuclear strike would be in order. On the border area and NK’s nuclear plants. Perhaps other military sites. All those tanks and artillery would be instantly neutralised. Not even a full court press of conventional ordnance could achieve that.

If you don’t do it, a lot of SK civilians get killed; if you do, you unleash the nuclear genie. I don’t envy Obama.

Not that I’d like it, but I could stomach it.

You mean a real, no foolin’ atomic first strike? I think that would be a bit much, aside from giving ammo to the USA-is-evil crowd. A better idea, in my mind, at least, would be to take out the DPRK* nuclear facilities, spaceport/launchpad(s), and as much of that artillery as possible using conventional air strikes and/or missiles. That is, IF a US first strike is the best option. That’s quite a big ‘if’.

Also, regarding DPRK atomic capabilities, I am under the impression that they don’t have a stockpile of the things, and that they don’t have the ability to produce them quickly. Anyone have a good source of info on this? Or is it something that no one outside of the DPRK military leadership has any idea about?

ETA: The last thing China wants is another Korean War, because NK refugees would flood the country. Something to keep in mind.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea… has any other country had as many lies in its name?

I don’t think we’d do that, and China would have a HUGE problem with us doing that as well, I believe. I think we could move enough forces/carrier groups/supply vessels into the region pretty quickly and make do with those. We do have something like 50,000 troops either in Korea or nearby in Japan. While that number isn’t large compared to what the DPRK has, they (and the South Korean Army) are better trained, fed, equipped and so forth.

I would imagine that at the first sign of US/SK forces seriously undermining the DPRK’s command and control (which is what we would strike first) that there would be many defections rippling throughout the DPRK military.

Kim Jong Il is a crazy fucker, and he may very well see using a nuclear device as his only option if things became dire for him. Honestly at that point I don’t think we’d respond in kind. One of the reasons why is that their nuclear weapons are probably unreliable, another is that I don’t think that they can unleash very much of it before we annihilate their infrastructure conventionally.

These troops along the DMZ have been preparing for war for decades. I doubt there would be many surprises. I think we’d have some warnings before an attack actually transpired. Maybe not.

And as far as the reason behind this thread, which is the DPRK treating the searching of their seafaring vessels as an act of war, Kim Jong Il can suck it. They are not trustworthy, and Kim is only in power because of the military, his Dad, and fear. The people there know how bad they have it and likely would prefer a better life.

If the DPRK is found to be transporting nuclear materiel/plans/WMD to ANY other hostile nation, it’s curtains for them, and they know it.

Quoth xtisme:

Honestly, I don’t think that North Korea has a nuclear arsenal. They probably have nuclear devices, but a nuclear device isn’t the same as a nuclear weapon: I suspect that what they actually have is more like the Gadget, and effectively impossible to deliver to any target other than a test site.

I’d like to see them do it just because it’d be cool to watch.
From a safe distance, mind you.

Yeah, that’s right, I want to see ten million Koreans die for my entertainment. Bring me some grapes!

Ah, man. Be decent. Have a beer while you watch.

I dunno. I do not know but really think China is not happy with NK on their doorstep. The Chinese are far from stupid. They know Kim Jong Il is fucking crazy and the regime is a dangerous one. I think the Chinese abide his antics because NK is more a thorn in the side of the US than China. That said the Chinese I am sure he can be a big problem for them too and a crazy fucker with nukes on China’s doorstep cannot be a proposition the Chinese leadership like. The winds have a way of changing and I’ll bet the Chinese are more aware of that than most. Realpolitiks sees the status quo but I think think in their heart the Chinese government would like to see the current NK regime gone as well.

So, what can be done?

  1. Leave NK as it is. Let them saber rattle. Let them build more nukes. Let them develop better and better long range missiles. Let them maybe proliferate any of that to the highest bidder.

This may maintain world peace for awhile but comes with the least certain outcomes. Who knows what it would lead to? Likely nothing anyone would be happy with.

  1. Have the US and allies attack NK. China has to choose whether to defend an “ally” in its own back yard. If they don’t the US gains greater sway in the area in the long run (essentially now a South Korea that is all of Korea). If they do we see two superpowers going at it…not good.

  2. Tell China to take NK for itself. Not great but really the best option. NK has forfeited any hope for others to feel bad or defend them. Heck, the North Koreans would almost certainly fare better under Chinese rule than NK rule (although like any people they would still probably not be happy about it…damned if you do, damned if you don’t).

China would gain greater control of SE Asia which they would certainly like. Overall the region would be more stable with the current NK regime out of the picture.

China certainly can project sufficient power to roll over NK. China cannot get its army much of anywhere but to a nation on their border? No problem.

The real issue there is NK seeing its doom would likely zap Seoul anyway in a fit of pique.

Not a lot of good options but I still lean to #3.

Perhaps under your #3 scenario we can hammer out a treaty with China that basically states that “You take the northern half of the Korean peninsula, you release Taiwan from bondage”.

Dare to dream.

I would be willing to bet my life that North Korea can not launch a nuke on a missile or in a bomber.

By ship, now, that’s very possible.

Why stop there? I bet if we work with the Russians we can collectively take out all of Earth’s humanity! Just get me on the International Space Station and supply the popcorn!

The only barganing powers we have left with China are:

  1. We default and refuse to pay back all the money they have loaned us

  2. We close our ports to all goods from China

Otherwise, they already ownus lock, stock & barrel

Your life we might be willing to gamble.

Several hundred thousand or maybe even millions of lives? The willingness to roll the dice becomes less certain.

Besides, as stated, with (someone else cited above) 18,000 artillery pieces ranged on Seoul they do not need an actual nuke.


I have no idea but let’s say an artillery shell as a block of TNT (equivalent) 0.01 meters big (seems more than reasonable to me…that is 1 centimeter…bet it is more).

0.01 * 18000 = 180 (so a block of TNT 180 meters on a side)

So, 180 kilotons of explosives in one volley. The bomb that hit Hiroshima was 18 kilotons…1/10 of that power.

Granted a nuke has additional effects and would flatten buildings in a way a lot of artillery shells spread around wouldn’t but you can see the problem.

Seoul would be toast.

Or try it this way:

Seoul is 605 km[sup]2[/sup]

Dunno if it is possible but assume in all these years the NKs have laid a grid over the city and want to go for a blanket effect and dialed in the targets for each artillery piece (with computers today this should not be too difficult).

They could put a shell every (605/18000) 0.033 km or one shell every 108 feet. I am willing to bet a modern artillery shell has an area effect that extends 108 feet or damn near enough.

In short, the NKs can blanket Seoul in one volley. Add in multiple volleys…bad news.

Whoops…I think I need to divide by 10 here (1 kiloton = 10 meter block) so 18 kilotons.

One volley equals Hiroshima (although I am betting there is more than a 1 centimeter block of explosive in an artillery shell).

Seoul would be wiped out. If NK used chemical weapons with their massive artillery range, easily a million lives lost. With a rush south, South Korean and American forces would be outnumbered almost 2 to 1. We’d have actual dogfights between aircraft. If worse came to worst we’d have to reinvade the peninsula.

They’d likely be a little more involved than that. The US would be putting a lot of pressure on them to get involved, and there would be panic among the Japanese people (who are utterly obsessed with the North). Under the circumstances I think that any decently skilled Japanese leader would be able to get Diet approval to stretch Article 9 to an unprecedented degree, especially if the action against NK takes place under UN auspices. I doubt we’d see Japanese infantry on the front lines, but I can imagine SDF sea and air forces involved in the Sea of Japan and ground forces in a support/humanitarian role on the peninsula itself.

I’m not so sure about that. I wouldn’t discount the superior arm and training of SK and US troops.

I think the worst case scenario would be: Large initial gains by NK, followed by a stall as the tanks ran out of fuel and the men ran out of food. SK/US troops then regroup, probably well north of Taejon, and pursue a more defensive strategy. SK/US air power whittles away at NK air force. The US and SK Navy would probably wipe the floor the floor with the NK fleet. As US/SK soldier dig in, the air forces begin to pound NK. Eventually North Korea runs out of bullets, food, fuel, boots, everything. Then US/SK troops (and possibly Chinese) go in and clean it up. Massive destruction and loss of life on the side of South Korea, yes, but the DPRK no longer exists.

Too late to edit, but I’ve been looking at population info on the two countries; it seems that the South has a lot more manpower fit for military service than the North. The ratio is almost 11 to 4. Cite and cite.

I would agree with this. South Korea is starting to realize they are in fact more powerful than North Korea. Wait for the right SK leader to understand this and it could get tricky.

This doesn’t even take into account all the US trigger troops waiting to be attacked so the US can legally respond.

No one wants this of course, but it’s waiting to happen and the response has been in place for decades.

SK has always had the US on its side. They have been more powerful than NK for a long time.

NK has had China on its side though and also opted for the approach that tackling them, while technically possible, would be far too painful to contemplate (see thousands of artillery pointed at Seoul).

Add to that a potential nuclear option recently.

COULD the US and SK whomp NK these days? Sure. Does the US or SK want to pay the price to do so? Almost certainly not.

NK knows this and will saber rattle and push for concessions but in the end they will not pull the trigger themselves (actually, who knows with the crazy people running the place).