The New Yorker Analyzes Risks of Nuclear War From Within North Korea

'Who cares? A lot of people would die. But not everyone would die,' a North Korean official says.

September 8, 2017 10:59 am
Hairstyles of world leaders
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at parade participants at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

The potential for nuclear war between the United States and North Korea continues to make headlines as President Trump and the country’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, make significant and public threats to one another. The possibility of mass casualties stemming from North Korea’s continued missile tests and the “major, major conflict” President Trump has threatened in response has increased global apprehension about the threat of war.

But a recent article in the New Yorker, reported by foreign correspondent Evan Osnos from within North Korea, brings important questions to the table: Is President Trump truly willing to go to war? What about the American people and military? And finally, should the gaps in our country’s knowledge about North Korea be reason enough to back down, before things escalate to a point of no return?

“Iraq taught us the cost of going to war against an adversary that we do not fully understand. Before we take a radical step into Asia, we should be sure that we’re not making that mistake again,” Osnos writes, painting a frightening picture of Pyongyang and beyond, where three million have already volunteered to join the war, and are unafraid. Pak Song Il, of the Foreign Ministry’s Institute for American Studies, explained to Osnos that North Korea’s people are accustomed to suffering — and a nuclear attack would not ruin them.

“A few thousand would survive,” Pak told Osnos. “And the military would say, ‘Who cares? As long as the United States is destroyed, then we are all starting from the same line again.’” He added, “A lot of people would die. But not everyone would die.”

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