An article in The Economist gives as trenchant analysis of North Korea's current situation as I have seen written; the bellicose rhetoric of its leader, Kim Jong Un serves no rational purpose other than to present himself as a fearless leader staring down an enemy that does not in reality exist. That North Korea has so many other more pressing domestic problems—such as a U.N. report that more than a fourth of all of its children are stunted from chronic malnutrition—finds no sympathy in the leader. But then again, why is this surprising for the world's most delusional and isolated regime.
The Economist writes:
Moreover, Mr Kim heads a regime that cares nothing for its own brutalised people. Some 150,000-200,000 North Koreans—individuals and often whole families—rot as political prisoners in a vast gulag. Farmers are herded into collectives and forced into gruelling manual labour. Women trying to make a living by smuggling refugees across the border with China are shot if they do not know the right people to bribe.
In some ways the North is even scarier under its new ruler than it was under his father, who died in 2011. Early hopes that Mr Kim might prove a youthful agent of change seem entirely dashed by his nuclear explosion and boundless bombast. He is thought to have ordered the sinking of a South Korean naval corvette in 2010, with the deaths of 46 crewmen, and the shelling of a South Korean island later that year. Whereas Kim Jong Il was practised in the calibrated calculation of shaking down the outside world, his callow son has escalated tensions wildly. Nobody knows how to walk him back from the brink.
Doing so depends partly on Mr Kim’s motives. Perhaps aggression is a rite of passage to prove his leadership credentials to the country’s ancient generals. Perhaps he will shrewdly claim he has seen off the imperialist threat and back down. Perhaps he gets a thrill from orchestrating the chaos—as if he were playing a video game. Or, most worrying, perhaps he is out of his depth and therefore more prone to miscalculation.It's likely a combination of all of the above with emphasis on him being out of depth; and like a child who has gone too far to impress his friend or colleagues, Kim does not know how to stop so as to save face in front of his people. In this case, however, the stakes are much larger, both to the Korean Peninsula and to the wider region that includes China.
Such being the case, it might now be a good idea for the United States to show its strength but not react to any provocation, while persuading China, North Korea's long-time benefactor and protector, to show how it can defuse the situation in a calm and rational fashion. That would be a diplomatic victory for China and the world.
You can read the rest of the article at [The Economist]