First whatever happens - Kim might do something dramatic maybe but his aim would be to get the talks back on track. It would not lead to war no matter what. Neither side has any benefit from a war. They are trading threats again, but they are empty bluffs.

The US can't invade North Korea because it would lead to impossible levels of casualties in South Korea.

Meanwhile, North Korea only wants to defend itself against invasion and doesn't want to attack anyone. There is absolutely no point in them shooting bombs at the US or South Korea or Japan or anyone. That would be a disaster for North Korea. Tests yes, actually attacking anyone, no way.

This is another article I'm writing to support people we help in the Facebook Doomsday Debunked group, that find us because they get scared, sometimes to the point of feeling suicidal, by such stories.

Do share this with your friends if you find it useful, as they may be panicking too. If you are in the middle of a panic attack right now, see my


So what was the announcement this time? The actual words are

The DPRK has done everything transparently and openly so far. It feels no need to hide what it will do from now on and therefore, reminds the U.S. once again that the year-end time limit comes nearer.

The DPRK has done its utmost with maximum perseverance not to backtrack from the important steps it has taken on its own initiative.

What is left to be done now is the U.S. option and it is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get. DPRK Vice Foreign Minister for U.S. Affairs Issues Statement | KCNA Watch

Since then they have been trading fighting words but they are empty bluffs, neither can attack the other or want to. More on that in a minute.

Kim Jong Un rode up Mount Paektu, the tallest mountain in North Korea and a sacred mountain for them. This usually is associated with him making some announcement or some big event. However this time it is also possible that he was just in the area at the time. This is him with his wife and senior military officials. The white horses and the mountain all have sacred symbolism for Koreans (both north and south as they were originally one kingdom before the Korean war) - see below.

So - first it is clear they want another peace summit as their priority. They have left the door open here, saying that the US can have another summit with Kim if they so choose.

Also Trump gave encouraging signs earlier this year including inviting Kim to the white house when he did his surprise visit to the demiliatarized zone and stepped into North Korea with Kim Jong Un on his invitation.

(click to watch on Youtube)

So, back to the present,

What is left to be done now is the U.S. option and it is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get.

They say that what is left to be done now is the US option. But they don’t say what the options are. One obviously would be to arrange a new summit. But what are the other option(s)?

It would not be an attack on the US, that doesn't make sense. It could be a ballistic missile test but that is not likely because they will still want to keep the door open through to 2020 for more peace talks.

The BBC article suggests a new satellite launch. That would be convincing as a possibility for a very dramatic gesture that still doesn’t break the letter of his promise to Trump - I thought that was a possibility too before I read the BBC article.

Kim has talked before about a geostationary statellite.

They demolished their satellite launch site in 2018 but after the peace talks failed in 2019 in Hanoi they rebuilt them again. At the time one idea was that it was just to give an extra token for negotiations. Building it up to have dramatic images of blowing it up.

This site has never been used to launch a ballistic missile and it would be an option to use it to launch another satellite. It wouldn’t technically break their promise as it is a satellite rather than a missile, but it is similar technology.

Also it would be less provocative than an intercontinental ballistic missile test. What they haven’t tested yet is the re-entry of the ballistic missile from space. They enter Earth’s atmosphere at great speed, much like a fireball and it is an immense challenge to design an ICBM that can re-enter without burning up - at hypersonic speeds. That is what makes it so challenging - it is much faster than the speed of sound, and the temperatures reached on the surface of the missile are very high, hundreds of degrees centigrade.

The experts think they probably haven’t yet got a ballistic missile that can do re-entry without breaking up - but are within a test or two of doing that. So - that would be provocative to do more re-entry tests. Also, tests to increase the payload on a ballistic missile would be provocative. They can send one as far as the US but probably only with a minimal payload not enough for a nuclear bomb.

For details see my

That was about the last missile test they did so far. Soon after that they said they won’t test any more - so stopped just short of having a genuine capability to hit the US with a nuclear weapon on an ICBM that would be credible to the US intelligence.

They are within a couple of years of developing that ability or maybe just a few missile tests depending how far ahead they are. They can probably send a nuclear weapon 8,000 km but not as far as 13,000 km. And without a well tested re-entry capability they don’t really have a credible ballistic missile threat yet.

A satellite test would test their ability to send payloads into orbit but not test the re-entry of a ballistic missile so would probably be seen as less provocative by the US.

Also, however mixed their motivation is, they do also have a lot of pride in their civilian space program. Kim Jong Un chose to mention their second successful civilian satellite and their plans for a future one as the first of their list of “Technological breakthroughs” that he proudly announced to the people in his New Year’s address:

“Our resourceful, talented scientists and technicians, following the successful launch of the earth observation satellite Kwangmyongsong 4, succeeded in the static firing test of new-type high-thrust motor of the launch vehicle for a geostationary satellite. By doing so, they have opened up a broad avenue to the exploration of outer space.

Their KMS-4 satellite is still in orbit and operational. Its perigee (closest to Earth) is currently 455.3 km, well above the lowest orbits and it would be expected to last a long time there. It was launched in 2016 and expected to be operational for at least four years. It is an Earth observation satellite and they have released photographs it has taken of South Korea.

Technical details for satellite KMS-4

This is the launch site, an old photo from 2012. They have launched

North Korean Unha-3 rocket at launch pad - Sohae Satellite Launching Station

"The reasons to suspect a satellite launch may be awaiting us are complex, " said Ankit Panda, "but broadly speaking, we have several indicators, including evidence of work on new SLVs [satellite launch vehicles] from 2017 and increased references to space activities in state media this year.

"We're also overdue for one, given the lack of any serious space activities despite a well-maintained space program in North Korea since 2016."

"We haven't seen any activity which would indicate that there's an impending test," said Melissa Hanham, an expert on open-source intelligence and director of the Datayo Project at the One Earth Future Foundation.

"However, it is still a fully functioning facility. They didn't dismantle the launch pad - they can still test missiles from there."

Kim Jong-un mulls 'Christmas gift' decision

If they did use it to launch a satellite to geostationary orbit - that would make them one of very few countries with that capability.

He would say it is peaceful use of his technology to launch satellites. It is indeed a peaceful use, potentially, but the problem is that it is a peaceful technology that is also useful for military attacks.

He might feel though that it gives him some leverage to say:

“we can return to the peace process and we can offer to blow up this site we used to send a satellite up to GEO”.

It would be a dramatic gesture to offer to blow up their space launch site for their first ever geostationary satellite.

So - that actually seems not impossible. But the US reaction might be hard to predict. I mean - whether the US would return to peace talks with NK after that.

Incidentally, longer term, then it might actually make sense for North Korea and South Korea to combine their expertise in a combined Korean space program. South Korea has its space port too but it hasn’t been anything like as successful as North Korea with its statellite launches.

If they do give up their missiles, North Korea will be left with a problem of vast numbers of missile experts out of a job. It would actually make sense to find a new way to employ them. A co-operative space program with the launches taking place in South Korea would be a way to emply them (which is closer to the equator and has advantages as a launch site, less fuel needed to get to orbit if you launch in the direction of Earth’s spin).

Otherwise they might disperse to other countries and take North Korean space technology to other parts of the world.

South Korea already have a civilian space program, and even a space port, their Naro Space Center, although with only one satellite launched from SK, perhaps a future where NK and SK co-operate on civilian space, in a jointly run operation?

Naro-1 - South Korea’s own native rocket which launches from their Naro Space Center (34°26' N 127°32′ E).- so far it has had only one successful launch and put a satellite into orbit.

North Korea have put two satellites into orbit successfully. Kwangmyongsong-3 Unit 2 and Kwangmyongsong-4 as part of their Kwangmyongsong program launched from the Sohai Satellite Launching Station (39.66°N 124.705°E).

I suggest that here:

Later on I found that experts had suggested the same idea and ran an article about it here, it also gives details of how a denuclearization program could work. It is not possible to do it instantly but would take about ten years to complete it. But they could do some grand gestures early on signficantly reducing their capabilities and enough to satisfy the Trump administration:

Anyway - if North Korea do something dramatic, this seems the most dramatic thing they could do, while still remaining technically within their promise not to do long range ballistic tests. It would then prepare them for a very dramatic announcement to destroy this facility as their first step in a deal.

But it would be a risky thing to do, It would risk derailing the peace process. Trump has only one year left of his first term and they don’t know for sure he will be re-elected so they won’t want to delay things with whatever they do.

Maybe they would just stick to doing more short range missile tests again.


After the North Korean announcement about the “Christmas present”, Trump called Kim “Rocket Man”. He also said while attending a NATO meeting in London:

"We have the most powerful military we've ever had and we're by far the most powerful country in the world. And, hopefully, we don't have to use it, but if we do, we'll use it. If we have to, we'll do it,"

Breaking News, Latest News and Videos (CNN)

The North Korean vice president replied

"I clearly state here that if the U.S. uses any armed forces against the DPRK, we will also take prompt corresponding actions at any level."

DPRK expresses displeasure over Trump's remarks on military threat


There is one thing new in this situation that none of those previous wars with Libya, Syria, Iraq and Vietnam had. There are US civilians in South Korea. The US can tolerate military losses, even hundreds, or thousands of soldiers dying in warfare. But they have no stomach at all for civilian casualties.

South Korea has not just a few US civilians, easily evacuated.

First, it is one of the most beautiful countries in Asia. It’s a tourist magnet for millions of tourists from China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand. A total of 13 million tourists visit South Korea every year. That’s 35,600 tourists arriving in South Korea, on average, every single day. It also has two million foreign residents as well. Details here

Amongst all those tourists and residents, there are many from the US too. The US has had a presence in South Korea ever since the Korean war and the work they did to help rebuild South Korea after that. South Korea has 150,000 US citizens, many civilian - including families of soldiers, members of the civil service, teachers of English as a second language etc. It had over 650,000 US tourists visit in 2016.

That’s 1,780 US tourists arriving in South Korea on average, every single day.

Here are some promotional videos to give you an idea of the sort of place it is, and why it attracts tourists from all around the world:

There is only one way they could attack North Korea without warning anyone in a surprise attack. That is if they were close to 100% sure that North Korea would not retaliate. But all the evidence according to the various commentators on this that I’ve read is the opposite.

They all say that it’s close to 100% certain North Korea would retaliate to a US attack. And that’s a big deal.

The thing is that many of the North Korean long range missiles are buried in underground bunkers, some even deep within mountains, well concealed.

The terrain is rugged, and mountainous with forests too, and it is easy to conceal missiles from satellites.

The US don’t necessarily know where all of them are. Other weapons are portable and camouflaged. Their missiles use solid fuel too, so don’t have to be loaded with liquid hydrogen, no preparation is needed. Like the ICBMs of the major powers, they can be launched with seconds of notice.

If desperate they also have stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons. Their missiles can reach heavily populated areas of South Korea - but not only that, also Japan and Guam.

It would of course be the US military’s top priority to destroy these long range missiles. But since they don’t know where they are and many are buried, or easily hidden and camouflaged and portable, the only way they can do that is with ground forces and an action that would last days. During all that time, North Korea would continue to fire long range missiles at South Korea and its main city Seoul and further afield.

Indeed they would feel they have to do this with utmost urgency since they are soon going to lose the capability as the US destroy the missiles.

For the details and background, see

The whole war would last for an estimated two weeks, before North Korea would run out of supplies. The first stage of destroying their long range missiles would last several days.

This is not something the US could contemplate. So, no, the US is not going to start a war with North Korea, and North Korea also would not want this scenario either.

Winter Olympics Talks - Korean Hopes For Reunification - US Can't Attack Without Warning US Civilians In South Korea

Trump himself confirmed this during the Kim - Trump summit press conference.

  • He brought up the civilians issue himself, that though he threatened war - it is not a good option - he said that Soeul has 38 million people, far more than New York and is close to the border with North Korea, he thinks they would have had millions of people die in a war with NK, could be 30 million.

    I’m not sure of that figure for the population of Soeul - the figure seems to be 25.6 million Seoul population. Anyway by comparision New York city is 8.4 million so he is right it’s a far larger city than New York

    Whatever the exact number, vast numbers would die.

I was interested to hear him say this, as there were many hawkish statements from the Trump administration last year that never mentioned the civilians in SK. Now at last they do and acknowledge it as an issue, as many of the more critical journalists and miliary experts had said at the time.

Similarly there never was a realistic chance that NK would attack the US except by mistake or the US invading NK. Because - they need their nuclear weapons as a deterrent. They never had the remotest chance of using their nuclear weapons to defeat the US or to make it impossible for the US to invade them.

More on the Kim - Trump summit here:

Peace negotiations and denuclearization discussions continue.

We can’t expect NK to give up their nuclear weapons without significant assurances from the US that they are not going to be invaded if they do so. But they do seem to be serious about this. What convinces me most is their radical change of propaganda from hate propaganda against the US to pro-US propaganda telling their citizens that they need to be friends with the Americans at the start of the peace process. It was very dramatic.

After the first summit, Kim stopped all the anti-US propaganda in North Korea and replaced it with Pro US propaganda saying that they have to sart to think of Americans as their friends, a major change. Stopped the dropping of propaganda leaflets on SK. Taking part as united Korea with SK in three sports in the Asian games. They ran several pages full of photographs of the summit showing both Kim and Trump together equal prominence in their state media. This is highly symbolic for them.

The stories include also the full text of the agreement to denuclearize.

The North Korean version of the summit declaration is near bottom left of that page complete with signatures. I got the photos from this tweet.

Trump was named and with an honorific on state television, probably a first for a US president.

Also, it was probably the first time many in North Korea had seen a photograph of a current US president

They did a long video of the summit, along with Kim's flight to it and his tour of the sights of Singapore. They started reporting some foreign visits in real time instead of the day after. Relations with SK were greatly improved.

It has cooled off somewhat since then, but it is still nothing like it was before the summits.

The last summit when it broke off left many doors open still.


This has been a concern for the people who contact me for a long time. But it is not a realistic worry for North Korea. They don't have the capability, or interest to take on the rest of the world and nobody else would join them.

They do not want to attack anyone. Only have the weapons for deterrence.

China and Russia also want them to denuclearize. They would not support North Korea in a war.

Kim is keen on the peace deal and sanctions relief. A military attack would serve no purpose. He wants to show they are strong and show their military capability but not to actually attack.

Hopefully with Bolton gone from the US side then the US and NK have at least a chance at a start at some movement towards peace.

They have come a long way and it would take a lot to go back to August 2017

.China do not support North Korea's nuclear program. Nor do Russia. They all want North Korea to denuclearize.

North Korea's weapons are only for defence. It would not attack the US. Would not achieve anything.

China has a mutual assistance pact with North Korea but it's generally agreed it would not honour it in a war between NK and the US in that very remote chance. Their priority in that situation would likely be to capture the North Korean nuclear weapons to stop them falling into anyone else’s hands (they have no use for them themselves).

Russia and the US are careful not to escalate. Even to the extent of Russia clearing air space for the US strike on the alleged chemical weapons factory in Syria without shooting down the US drones. They probably didn't know what it was about but it would have been a pretty safe guess.Iran and Ukraine have nothing to do with North Korea and would not get involved.


The reason the last one broke down is because North Korea were prepared to do a partial denuclearization for partial sanctions relief but the US were hard line about it and said they have to denuclearize all the way before they get any sanction relief. John Bolton was the real hardliner on the US side and with him now gone there is more chance of progress in future talks, the US is coming around to some form of graduated reduction on both sides.

Another reason it broke down is that North Korea had concealed some information from the US and it was a shock to them when they found out that the US knew about those secret facilities and made it part of the denuclearization.


Kim has seen that Libya gave up its nuclear ambitions and a few years later was invaded by a coalition including the US, and its leader Colonol Gadaffi was horribly killed by a lynch mob.

He has also seen the US invade Iraq. Then he has the history of the Korean war which many Koreans still alive would remember, which was horrific for the North Koreans. The US did carpet bombing of North Korean cities and many of the population survived by digging tunnels for protection from the bombs. The US would not do that today because carpet bombing like that is now illegal under the Geneva convention Protocol I, a 1977 amendment whichprohibits treating clearly separated military objectives within a city as a single target. But it is part of their history.

He tests them long range because he wants to say that if the US invades NK he can launch a nuke all the way to the US. This is partly symbolic. The US antiballistic defense system would destroy nearly all such nukes but it can't yet guarantee to get them all so if he launched say a dozen nukes to the US one or two might get through.


The first reason they won't, even some remote place to show they can do it, is because there would then be no reason for the US to not invade North Korea. It only works as a threat if they don't use it.

Also they can’t do it yet. They don't want to provoke the US too much so they have stopped just short of the ability to send a nuclear bomb to the US.

At present they probably can't do this. The last missile they tested was not able to carry a nuclear bomb unless it was very advanced and miniaturized and they probably haven't done enough tests to make such a small nuclear bomb. Experts don’t think they can do this yet.

Also they didn't test re-entry properly so it probably would just break up in the atmosphere.

Another couple of tests would get them to the ability to hit the US with a nuclear bomb but they don't want to do them because it would provoke the US.

They could in theory detonate a nuclear bomb relatively harmlessly in the middle of the Pacific in international waters. They threatened to do that at one point, and may have the capability as they have tested what is likely a hydrogen bomb before.

Why North Korea is not about to invade South Korea - or the US invade NK - and why you don’t need to be scared of a NK hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific

But that would be the end of the peace process and any chance of reduction in their sanctions so they won't do that either.


They are a Confucian society, an unusual form of Confucianism called Chendoism. This means they are striving for a state of harmony on Earth a kind of paradise on Earth. That may seem ironic but all his ruthlessness is to do with this idea of creating a perfectly harmonious kingdom on Earth. A heirarchical society with Kim’s family at the top. However, much of the North Korean people would be behind this too. Of course they don’t know much about the world outside of their country as everything is censored. But it wouldn’t work without support from the people too.

It is not an expansionist philosophy. He has a huge amount of pride in North Korea and what it has accomplished (in their eyes) under tremendous adversity. This shines all the way through his New Year speech for instance. His aim is to preserve and further their society and also - rather paradoxically as it may seem to us, he wants the eventual reunification with South Korea - and not by invasion. South Korea want that too, many especially of the older South Koreans and president Moon. How that can happen, a reunification of a democracy and a dictatorship, is hard to see, not instantly for sure. But step by step they hope to get there eventually.

North Korea’s official ideology is juche, which roughly translates as “independence, or the independent status of a subject,” according to Owen Miller, lecturer in Korean history and culture at at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS),

“When Kim Il Sung started using the word, he was using [it] to refer to this sense of injured pride, going back decades and much further, hundreds of years under Chinese control. He is saying North Korea is going to be an independent nation in the world, independent of other nations,”

I talk a bit about their religion here Tense situation concerning North Korea


Why does Kim ride about on white horses so much?

It is a strong symbol in Korean mythology. For instance in this story of the founding of the ancient kingdom called Silla, in Korea.

The chieftains and their families then climbed a high mountain, where they worshipped and prayed to heaven to send them a gracious prince according to their wish. Suddenly there was a lightning.flash, and an auspicious rainbow stretched down from heaven and touched the earth in the south by the well called Najong in the direction of Mt. Yang, where a white horse was seen kneeling and bowing to something. In great wonderment they ran down to the well.

When they came near, the white horse neighed loudly and flew up to heaven on the rising veil of the rainbow, leaving behind a large red egg (some say a blue egg) lying on a giant rock near the well. When the people cracked the egg they found within it a baby boy whose noble face shone like the sun. When he was given a bath in the East Stream (where Tongch'(Sn Temple stands, to the north) he looked everi more bright and handsome.

The people danced for joy, and the birds and beasts sang and danced round the boy. Heaven and earth shook, and the sun and moon' shone brightly (indicating that this was indeed the king they had prayed for). They named him King Hyekkese, meaning bright ruler.

On the same day a she-dragon descended from heaven to another well, called Aryongjong in Saryang-ni, and from under her ribs on the left side produced a baby girl, who burst like a flower from a bud. (Some accounts say the she-dragon appeared and died, and the baby was found inside when the body was opened.)

The child was fair of face and graceful of form, but her mouth was like the beak of a chick. However, when the people bathed her in the North Stream of Moon Castle, the beak fell off, revealing her cherry­ red lips. The stream was thenceforth called Palch'on (beak-falling stream).

The people erected a palace at the foot of South Mountain and brought up the two babies, who grew to be a noble prince and princess. Since the prince had been born from an egg in the shape of the gourd called "pak" in the native tongue, they gave him the family name Pak. (Evidently a foundation-myth of the Pak clan. The official records do indeed indicate that the first three Silla kings and some later ones were ofthis clan. The name is a common one in modern Korea.) The princess was named Aryong after the well where she was born:



This article originated on my quora blog as

North Korea’s “Christmas gift” - they are keeping the door open for talks - maybe the alternative is a geostationary satellite launch? No risk of WW III ever

Doomsday Debunked

back to top

Seven tips for dealing with doomsday fears

If you are scared: Seven tips for dealing with doomsday fears which also talks about health professionals and how they can help.

If in the middle of a panic attack, see

Facebook support group

Facebook group Doomsday Debunked has been set up to help anyone who is scared by these fake doomsdays.

If you need help

Do message me on Quora or PM me on Facebook if you need help.

There are many others in the group who are available to support scared people via PM and who can also debunk fake Doomsday “news” for you if you get scared of a story and are not sure if it is true. See our debunkers list

If you are suicidal don’t forget there’s always help a phone call away with the List of suicide crisis lines - Wikipedia