A Man in His 20s Could Start the Third World War

Kim Jong-un, born in 1983 or 1984, is the absolute ruler of North Korea. Rumors circulating in the Chinese media speculate that Mr. Kim, beyond just molding his Mao suit and hair style, has also undergone plastic surgery in order to resemble his grandfather, the late Kim Il-Sung: founder of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, hero of the Korean war, and the man who started it. But just what else is the young Mr. Kim trying to do like his grandfather Kim Il-Sung?

If recent speech is to be believed, the young Mr. Kim wants to start another war, just like his grandpa'. In the face of no UN support from China, Kim faces a rather serious problem: he is young and not widely supported in North Korea. He is seen by many as a young prince. North Koreans see his belly as a sign of laziness, and, worse, compare him to a character from a 90s children cartoon; a child general that makes goofy mistakes. 

Besides the rocket launch which on the 11th of December proved that North Korea could deliver a 500kg warhead up to 10,000km, potentially having the capability to reach San Francisco, Kim has no other accolades. Fortunately, the North has does not have a nuclear warhead under 1500kg, nor have they shown they have the technology needed for atmosphere re-entry.

The young Mr. Kim needs to prove to his people that he is strong and that the South fears him. He has threatened war with the South if it presses ahead with UN sanctions. If the South does not press ahead with sanctions, it will be lauded by the regime as proof of how strong and feared the young Mr. Kim is.

However, should the South proceed with sanctions, Kim Jong-Un will be seen as weak by his people. According to analysts, Kim has the intellectual capacity to fully understand that he is young and needs to prove himself. The sinking of the Cheonan -- that resulted in the death of more than 50 South Korean sailors -- and the bombardment of Yeongpyeong island were orchestrated by father and son to prove to the older military leadership that Kim was a dangerous genius feared by the imperialist powers. 

That there was no retaliation from the South for the attacks, only served to prove the young Mr. Kim. Although the first two strikes were tolerated, president Lee Myung-Bak of the South changed military procedures, allowing the South to bomb the North with jets in the event of another attack. 

As it stands, the South has strict procedures for defending itself in the event of another aggression. The possibility of aggression is very high. Kim Jong-Un has under his command a million man army -- the third largest in the world -- and he has continued nearly all of his father's psychopatic human rights abuses, and since he wants to be seen as the reincarnation of his grandfather, perhaps he is also willing to sacrifice a few million people in order to cement his rule. 

There are 28,000 US soldiers in South Korea, but the US is in little condition to stomach another sustained war. The North has stockpiled enough fuel to endure a two-month military campaign, and also enough food to sustain its military for many months more. 

If the young Mr. Kim is calculating his best odds -- for the survival of his regime -- he needs to sacrifice his most disloyal units and "win" a war against the South. The South does not want to see Seoul destroyed -- 25 million souls living there -- so Mr. Kim could very likely get away with destroying a smaller city. He doesn't care about his infrastructure-barren country getting bombed for a month or two. The South will likely try to reach an armistice after proper "retaliation."

Though the Korean war ended in an armistice and the two Koreas are still technically at war, North Koreans still laud it as a victory against the US. Mr. Kim believes he can do the same again. If he is successful, he will have an immense base of support. Kim is a gambling man, and this is a gamble he feels he needs to take. At this point, we can merely hope that the South does not push ahead with new UN sanctions. 

After that, we can only hope that Mr. Kim only destroys a small city. And, after that, we can only hope that the South calls for an armistice after a bombing campaign or less. 

If Kim fails to follow through on his promise to go to war over the South pushing for UN sanctions, the very real possibility remains that his regime may collapse and 23 million starving, modernity-disoriented refugees flock the South and also the Chinese border.

Given the current escalation between China, Taiwan, and Japan over the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, the very real possibility remains that the world powers could be dragged into Mr. Kim's need to preserve his regime.