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Unveiling the Truth: Is North Korea’s Nuclear Program a Mere Threat?

Kim Gil Sun, born in 1955, began her career as a journalist in North Korea after graduating from the Department of Korean Language and Literature at Kim Il Sung University. Despite being part of the elite group in North Korea, her career faced setbacks when she was marginalized for using inappropriate language during a conversation with colleagues under Kim Jong Il’s regime. Additionally, she endured the hardships of the Arduous March, a period of extreme famine in North Korea.

Disenchanted with the North Korean regime, Kim Gil Sun defected with her family in 1997 and resettled in South Korea two years later. Currently, she appears on Korean broadcasts, shedding light on the realities of North Korea.

In her appearances, she revealed insights into North Korea’s military capabilities, tracing the origins of its nuclear program back to the Kim Il Sung regime following the Korean War. She explained that after the war, the Soviet Union withdrew its support for North Korea when the United States mentioned the possibility of nuclear warfare. This prompted Kim Il Sung to recognize the significance of atomic weapons and initiate research and development in that area.

Based on her analysis, the probability of North Korea possessing nuclear weapons is deemed to be notably low. She pointed out that the scientific and technological advancement in rate other more developed nations within a year would equate to a century’s progress in North Korea. This underscores the relatively limited technological capabilities of North Korea.

She asserted that North Korea’s capabilities fall short, stating, “North Korea can’t even make a camera, so how could they have excellent military weapons?” She argued that the weaponry North Korea presents is merely for display, suggesting they are likely counterfeit.

Additionally, she analyzed that even if North Korea manages to develop weapons, it cannot effectively implement, stabilize, and standardize them.

Kim Gil Sun contends that North Korea repeatedly mentions nuclear weapons despite lacking possession to garner Western attention. She suggests that North Korea’s atomic claims serve as a bluff, a display, and a negotiation tactic to deter UN sanctions and sustain international dialogue for peace.

Moreover, she anticipates limited technical advancements due to the populace’s lack of understanding regarding nuclear elements and the absence of awareness beyond North Korean authority indoctrination.

She criticized, “Originally, the novice is prone to exaggeration,” noting that actual nuclear-possessing countries refrain from action while causing international disturbances with unproven nuclear weapons.

Additionally, VOA expert analysis suggests that North Korea is not adequately prepared for war.

Kim Jong Un’s declaration labeling South Korea as the first hostile country and his threat to take action in similar situations have heightened international tensions. However, experts unanimously assert that North Korea’s current circumstances make actual warfare impossible.

Patrick Ryder, a U.S. Department of Defense spokesperson, responded to queries about North Korea’s potential military actions against South Korea by stating, “There is no confirmation of any imminent attack.”

Both the United States and South Korea have not detected any indications suggesting an imminent attack by North Korea on the South, indicating a restrained assessment of North Korea’s military capabilities.

Despite possessing nuclear weapons and over 1 million troops, experts question the actual strength of North Korea’s military. While North Korea claims to have over 40 atomic warheads following six nuclear tests, analysts remain skeptical of the country’s true military prowess.

South Korea and the United States have not only bolstered their containment efforts to prevent the escalation of North Korea’s nuclear threat but have also issued official warnings. They emphasized that any attack on South Korea would lead to the end of the Kim Jong Un regime.

Military expert and former Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Kim Min Seok clarified that this implies the removal of Chairman Kim Jong Un if North Korea were to initiate a nuclear attack on South Korea.

Recent analysis indicates a contrasting trend in military power between South Korea and North Korea. According to the 2024 Global Firepower report by the U.S. Army evaluation agency Global Firepower (GFP), South Korea achieved a notable score of 0.1416 in the military power assessment index, securing the 5th position among 145 surveyed countries. This marks a significant advancement from last year’s 6th position.

South Korea’s military power ranking has been steadily rising. It entered the top 10 in 2013 at 9th place and progressed to 7th place in 2014. It maintained the 6th position for four consecutive years from 2020 until the previous year.

On the other hand, North Korea’s military power fell two steps to 36th place, receiving an evaluation index of 0.5313 from 34th place last year. North Korea entered the top 20 in 2019 at 18th place but has been continuously pushed back since then.

In the national defense budget item by country, South Korea placed 11th, and North Korea recorded 58th place.

North Korea’s military power declined, dropping two positions to 36th place in the recent evaluation, with an index score of 0.5313 compared to last year’s 34th place. Despite entering the top 20 in 2019 at 18th place, North Korea has faced a consistent retreat since then.

Regarding national defense budget rankings, South Korea secured the 11th position, while North Korea trailed behind at 58th place.

The GFP military power assessment index utilizes a comprehensive analysis approach, considering over 60 individual indicators covering manpower, weapon quantity, economic strength, wartime mobilization potential, defense budget, and more. The closer to 0, the stronger the military power is.

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