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Korea: Korea Simmers


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January 4, 2024: North Korea continues to pass and enforce laws against those who adopt South Korean fashions, clothing, and mannerisms. North Koreans defy their government with this behavior. To make matters worse, fewer North Koreans are getting married and having children. There is a different problem in affluent South Korea. Over the last few years, the number of missing conscripts has become obvious, and the solution was not to send a lot of officers in charge of conscription to labor camps, but to try and pressure recent high school graduates and those who had recently completed their ten years of active and reserve service to voluntarily enlist or reenlist. Birth rates have been declining for years and so has the population of military-age men. Those already in the military are bribing their way out or simply deserting. The calls for voluntary enlistments have largely been ignored.

The North Korean armed forces have lots of other, and older, problems. While nearly every adult male serves at least six years in the military, the big problem is that years of economic problems and failed harvests have left the troops poorly equipped, often hungry, and increasingly insubordinate. With most of the best educated troops bribing their way into any job but one in a combat unit, it is increasingly doubtful if the North Korean combat forces could get very far during an invasion of South Korea, or retreat fast enough if the South invades the North. North Korea also has problems with the birth rate, which is currently 1.8 and below the population replacement rate of 2.1. South Korea has a similar problem because prosperous populations tend to have fewer children because there are so many other activities the women can engage in. Raising children is a lot of work and given a choice, a lot of couples choose not to have kids.


Over the last few decades, the South Korea military has become stronger in terms of weapons, most of them produced in South Korea, as well as capabilities. The South Korean military is more capable than ever before of quickly and effectively attacking North Korea or retaliating against a North Korea attack.

North Korea is aware of this and feels better able to deal with South Korea, the Americans or China because of their closer economic and military relationships with Russia. This attitude is somewhat delusional because Russia is not very powerful economically or militarily compared to the United States or China, the two largest economies on the planet. China and the United States have their differences but are willing and able to cooperate if they have to. Between them they comprise about half the planetary economy and what these two nations agree to do economically defines what the rest of the world can do.



A Republic of Korea air force KA-1 Woongbi flies alongside two 25th Fighter Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt IIs during Buddy Squadron 22-5 at Wonju Air Base, South Korea, July 12, 2022. The exercise was the first of its kind since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic for pilots, maintenance technicians and support personnel to build trust, introduce new tactics and exchange ideas. (Courtesy photo by South Korea Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Hyung Kwon)

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