North Korea is acting like it's ready for war, but Kim Jong Un's back is against the wall


North Korea

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Pak Su Dong, manager of the Soksa-Ri cooperative farm in an area hit by floods and typhoons shows damage to agricultural products in the South Hwanghae province September 29, 2011. In March 2011, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that 6 million North Koreans needed food aid and a third of children were chronically malnourished or stunted.

Despite intense saber rattling between the US and North Korea, experts told Business Insider that all intelligence coming from the Hermit Kingdom indicates its not getting ready for war, and if it did, it would be catastrophic.


"Yes there's a lot of statements going back and forth that are escalating tensions, but in the real world on the ground in North Korea, and I suspect in South Korea, life goes on," Joel Wit, a senior fellow at US-Korea Institute who previously worked on North Korea policy at the State Department, said on a call with reporters organized by 38 North.

Wit said satellite imagery of North Korea just isn't showing the drum beat of war playing out for normal citizens. Foreigners haven't fled. Workers haven't been pulled from factories, and even the media remains calm and focused on the economy.

Additionally, although Kim Jong Un may posture as though he's ready to fight tonight, this month just isn't good for him.

"We're now entering the season in North Korea where we're going to see the starting of harvesting crops," said Wit. If North Korea had to go into lockdown for possible strikes, we'd see a "serious impact on food collection, and then food distribution, then after that, food availability."


So Kim Jong Un faces what appears to be a relatively easy choice: Initiate a conflict he is sure to lose, and let his people starve, or continue with business as usual while maintaining his usual brash propaganda.