Summing up the Korea Situation in a Headline

Via the AP:  Analysis: NKorea threat may be more bark than bite.

This is, undoubtedly, the case.

Further, the purpose for the behavior is almost certainly the following:

As threatening as Kim’s call to arms may sound, its main target audience may be the masses at home in North Korea.

For months, the masterminds of North Korean propaganda have pinpointed this year’s milestone Korean War anniversary as a prime time to play up Kim’s military credibility as well as to push for a peace treaty. By creating the impression that a U.S. attack is imminent, the regime can foster a sense of national unity and encourage the people to rally around their new leader.

Inside Pyongyang, much of the military rhetoric feels like theatrics. It’s not unusual to see people toting rifles in North Korea, where soldiers and checkpoints are a fixture in the heavily militarized society. But more often than not in downtown Pyongyang, the rifle stashed in a rucksack is a prop and the "soldier" is a dancer, one of the many performers rehearsing for a Korean War-themed extravaganza set to debut later this year.

Also worth noting:

And in a telling sign that even the North Koreans don’t expect war, the national airline, Air Koryo, is adding flights to its spring lineup and preparing to host the scores of tourists they hope will flock to Pyongyang despite the threats issuing forth from the Supreme Command.

War or no war, it seems Pyongyang remains open for business.

FILED UNDER: Asia, World Politics, , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Ben Wolf says:

    It’s often the little, almost inconsequential things that give the best insight into what others are really thinking. Data points like those in the article linked above can tell us more than a hundred official pronouncements from the NK government.

  2. Davebo says:

    Yes, I’ve been wishing for years to take a two week holiday in Pyongyang!

    There’s something about starving people in a failed country that just begs for relaxation time.

  3. Franklin says:

    So the people there are already in on the joke? Threaten war -> get food aid. What happens when this cycle stops? Perhaps it’s time for us to stop it.

  4. Tyrell says:

    Just who in their right mind would go to this country for any reason? Who would risk flying on their airlines?

  5. 11B40 says:


    I’m not quite sure what that business that North Korea remains open for is other than the belittled WMDs or inter-country extortion.

    I watch a bit of the (South) Korean Broadcasting System’s KBS World TV programming and most of it seems to be taking it pretty serious. The only glimmer of hope I came across was about an industrial area in southern North Korea which had been extracted on a previous round of inter-country extortion by a previous new, reformist Supreme Leader. Apparently, the Commies in the North aren’t prepared totally to cut their collectivized nose to spite their Marxist face and are letting South Koreans come across the border to keep the place running and the money coming.