At the beginning of the month, relations between North and South Korea turned sour. It came as hundreds of thousands of anti-Kim Jong-un leaflets – the country’s supreme leader – found their way across the border. Kim Yo-jong, Kim’s sister, used the event to brand those responsible as “human scum”, later calling the South “the enemy”.
The North cut a telecommunications line that had been in daily use between Pyongyang and Seoul since 2018 – a symbolic move that the North said was part of planned “military action”.
Then, days later, Kim blew up a joint liaison office with the South in the border city of Kaesong.
They were days of uncertainty, but tensions soon subsided as the North announced it would suspend its aggression having taken the “prevailing situation” into consideration.
Despite this, many have noted that war will remain on the radar of South Korea and the US for months to come.
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Kim has repeatedly deployed such tactics as to push the North and its agenda onto the global political scene.
Each year the North launches scores of test missiles into its own territory and that of neighbouring Japan, despite there being agreements in place to deter it from doing so.
The country’s willingness to flout unilateral agreements and peace declarations inclines many to believe that all out war is an inevitability.
In his 2018 Vox report, journalist and war correspondent Yochi Dreazen, talked through the various ways in which the North could potentially spark a war like no other.
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He cites the impressive artillery and missile arsenal the North has amassed.
The dictatorship also holds a considerable number of chemical agents, such as VX, sarin, smallpox, yellow fever, anthrax, hemorrhagic fever, and even plague.
Mr Dreazen wrote that “the consensus view is that Kim would try to level the playing field by using his vast arsenal of chemical weapons, which is believed to be the biggest and most technologically advanced in the world.”
With so many artillery pieces and rocket launchers locked on Seoul, Kim has the ability the envelop the densely packed city with rapid shell fire and masses of nerve agents.
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The human death toll from this would be huge, with military historian Reid Kirby estimating in 2017 that a sustained sarin attack could kill up to 2.5 million people in Seoul alone while injuring nearly 7 million more.
All of this taken into consideration, Mr Dreazen explained that: Men, women, and children would very literally choke to death in the streets of one of the world’s wealthiest and most vibrant cities.
“It would be mass murder on a scale rarely seen in human history.
The North would apparently be willing to use such chemical agents on innocent bystanders.
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Andrew Webber, formerly the assistant secretary of defence for nuclear, chemical, and biological defence programmes, told Mr Dreazen: “We would expect to see cocktails of fast-acting biological agents designed to stop troops in their tracks and regular infectious agents that would take more time to kill people.
“There would be a significant military impact and a significant psychological one.
“It’s hard to overstate just how frightening these types of weapons are.”
In a 2017 report, researchers from Harvard University noted that minute quantities of anthrax “equivalent to a few bottles of wine” could kill up to half the population of a densely populated city like Seoul.
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The paper speculates that “theoretically” it is possible that North Korea could fire missiles with payloads of anthrax or other biological weapons into South Korea, or use drones to disperse the lethal substances from the air.
The Harvard researchers also explained that Kim could potentially send North Korean citizens into the South to spread deadly virus’ and disease.
For example: “North Korean sleeper agents disguised as cleaning and disinfection personnel could disperse BW agents with backpack sprayers.”