South Korea

Esther Bintliff

A video grab from North Korean TV on March 20 shows Kim Jong-Un overseeing a live fire military drill (North Korean TV/AFP/Getty)

A video grab from North Korean TV on March 20 shows Kim Jong-eun overseeing a live fire military drill (North Korean TV/AFP/Getty)

Taking weeks of shrill rhetoric and threats to a fresh high on Tuesday, North Korea announced plans to restart a shuttered plutonium reactor and increase production of enriched uranium. So did we just move one step closer to nuclear armageddon? Here’s a reading list of comment and analysis to help gauge the hazard level.

  • Our own Gideon Rachman argues that there is still “an unfortunate tendency in the west” to treat North Korea as a bit of a joke. “In reality, the Pyongyang regime is about as unfunny as it gets.” He warns that the US and South Korea are responding to North Korea as if it is a rational adversary – “but the unsettling reality is that we cannot be sure.”
  • What do North Korea’s air defenses look like? Foreign Policy has the answer. (Spoiler: they look quite old, as they’re largely from the 60s, 70s and 80s).

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The thing about MAD is that it requires both sides to be sane. Ever since the onset of the nuclear age, the doctrine of mutually assured destruction, or MAD, has kept the peace. The calculation that, ultimately, no rational political leadership would risk millions of deaths in their own nation has seen the world through some perilous moments – from the Cuba missile crisis to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

By Gideon Rachman

“Our intercontinental ballistic missiles are on standby … If we push the button, they will blast off and their barrage will turn Washington, the stronghold of American imperialists and the nest of evil … into a sea of fire.”

Esther Bintliff

The youtube video of Gangnam Style has received over 530 million views. As a point of reference, Nasa estimates that about 530 million people watched Neil Armstrong take one small step for man in 1969. What on earth is going on?  Read more

Here’s what got us chatting at our desks this morning:

Articles piquing our interest today:

Statues of North Korea's founding president Kim Il-sung (L) and his son Kim Jong-il are unveiled during a ceremony in Pyongyang on April 13 (Getty)

North Korea likes to celebrate on a monumental scale and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founder, was supposed to be no different. But the long-range Eunha-3 rocket launched on Friday blew apart about 90 seconds into its flight.

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Alan Beattie

The euro has fallen to a 16-month low below $1.27 – run, run for your lives! Or recognise that it’s still around the trade-weighted average for the past decade and only slightly weaker in real terms than when it launched, that a weaker currency is just what a stricken economy needs and that there isn’t much sign that the fall is disorderly and hence generally hitting confidence in eurozone assets. (The eurozone authorities are doing that.) Read more