Just when war nerds like me are ready to lose hope, along comes a good Korean-War scare. Things were looking pretty grim, what with the Iraq invasion getting put off more times than Michael Jordan's retirement. I'd drive home from my hell-job cursing every old lady in the fast lane, hoping to pop on the TV and see the new GBUs with the Baghdad-cams... and instead there'd be nothing but more weak Pentagon promises.
Then boom! The North Koreans announce that they're restarting their nuclear-weapons program and they don't care who knows it, the US Army cancels leave for all the troops on the DMZ, and we've got something to look forward to again: a REAL war, finally.
I mean bush wars are fun, but you get sick of reading about African militias hacking up villagers and carrying around sacks of hands and feet. You want a real war, starring a couple of countries with more than a half-dozen high-school graduates between them. Some real soldiers, with weapons a little more advanced than Kalashnikovs and machetes.
And if anybody can give us that kind of war, it's Korea. The rest of the world may've turned into lapdogs scared of their own shadows, but not the Koreans. They're crazy people. They'll tell you so themselves.
I used to know some Koreans in Bakersfield, because they went to the same Pentecostal church. There were some far-gone folks in that congregation, but the Koreans were the most God-crazy people in the place. Especially the Korean girls. Most of the white girls or Latinas were pretty relaxed outside of Sunday services, but everybody knew you shouldn't even bother talking to a Korean girl unless you were "one with God," meaning your idea of a hot date was holding hands at an ice-cream place and quoting scripture at each other.
So I understand North Korea. They're just like the Koreans in Bakersfield, except they went for Communism instead of Christ. If pure craziness could win wars, Kim Jong Il's army would kick ass. The problem is, I'm not sure morale alone will do it. Not anymore. Back when you fought with axes and spears, the crazier side usually won, like the berserkers. But craziness won't keep you alive when you're up against fuel-air weapons, cluster-bombs, bunker-busters and all the other hi-tech killing toys the North would have to face if they ever do the ol' Banzai charge across the DMZ.
A war on the DMZ would be bloody-I mean for us as well as them-but the North'd lose. No question.
The real question is what would happen if they decided to play dirty. Which they would. The only thing North Korea does well is train secret agents and infiltrators. Their agents do what they're told, up to and including suicide. They all carry little poison pills they're supposed to take if captured. Lots of countries give these pills to their agents-but the North Koreans really take them.
They're smart, too-Koreans are real smart. Over the past fifty years, North Koreans have come up with lots of different schemes, some scary, some just ridiculous. They swing for the fences every time. They will go anywhere, try anything, and do any and all sorts of craziness just for a chance to kill a few South Korean politicians or American Imperialists.
The most famous North Korean attack happened in Burma (or Myanmar, as you're supposed to call it now) in 1983. The North Koreans knew that the South Korean President and most of his cabinet would be visiting Rangoon (if you're still allowed to call it that), so they sent three top agents down there to wipe the whole Southern leadership out at once-the Michael Corleone approach, for you Godfather fans. The Northern agents planted a huge bomb at a shrine the South Koreans were scheduled to visit and set it off by remote control. The President survived, but 18 other South Korean officials were blown to bits, along with a lot of Burmese.