Why Don T We Just Bomb North Korea

What is North Korea?

North Korea is an isolated East Asian nation, located between China and South Korea. It is governed by the Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-Un, who has been in power since 2011, taking over from his father, Kim Jong Il. The government of North Korea is highly militarised, and has shown a willingness to utilise its nuclear arsenal in international conflicts. They have also been accused of human rights violations, with reports of forced labour and torture, among other abuses.

What is our Relationship With North Korea?

The United States has a long and complicated history with North Korea. Since the 1950s, when the Korean War ended, the two countries have remained officially at war. Despite efforts to open diplomatic negotiations and pursue peace, the relationship has been strained, with the US adopting a hardline stance against North Korea’s nuclear program. Efforts to impose stringent sanctions and enforce the disarmament of North Korea have largely been unsuccessful.

Why Don’t We Just Bomb North Korea?

The option of bombing North Korea has been frequently discussed, but to date, it has been rejected primarily due to the potential for catastrophic casualties. Over 25 million people inhabit North Korea, and a full-scale bombing campaign would likely result in the death of hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of innocent civilians. This would rightly be seen as an act of genocide.
In addition, a bombing campaign could trigger a regional conflict between the US and its allies and China, as well as North Korea’s other regional partners. The US military is also not equipped to attempt regime change in North Korea, which could result if a comprehensive bombing campaign was launched. Moreover, a bombing campaign could potentially escalate the conflict, leading to further violence by North Korea against South Korea and Japan.

Alternative Solutions

Aside from bombing North Korea, there are other options for resolving the conflict. Currently, diplomatic negotiations are ongoing between the US and North Korea. There have also been proposals to pursue economic sanctions or aid programs to further incentivize North Korea towards disarmament.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has also proposed an international inquiry into the human rights violations perpetrated by the North Korean government, as well as an effort to develop a plan for reparation to the victims of the regime’s actions. This could be potentially supported by a US-led coalition of states, creating pressure on North Korea to disallow any further abuses.


Bombing North Korea is a prohibitively dangerous and reckless course of action, as it would lead to mass casualties, a potential regional conflict, and the potential for a US-backed regime change. The costs associated with such an event far outweigh any perceived gains, and thus, any potential action of this nature should be rejected.
A more viable solution is to focus on diplomatic negotiations and economic sanctions, as well as to support an international inquiry into the human rights abuses perpetrated by the North Korean government. This would create pressure on the regime, and ultimately lead to a more peaceful outcome for the region.

Role of China

China is a key player in the dispute over North Korea, and its influence has been integral in resolving the conflict. It is the main economic backer of North Korea, and as such, has been able to exercise considerable pressure on the regime. China has also supported international sanctions against North Korea, and has called for the full disarmament of the regime, as well as its reintroduction into the international community.
At the same time, they have been reluctant to support more stringent measures, such as financial aid embargoes or military action, due to fears that it may trigger a regional conflict. China is also a traditional ally of North Korea, and as such, it has sought to preserve the current system as much as possible, without inviting the US or other states to intervene in a region it considers part of its sphere of influence.

Role of Japan

Japan has also played a major role in the dispute over North Korea. As the closest neighbor to North Korea, Japan has been the target of numerous missile tests and belligerent rhetoric from the North Korean government. In order to protect its citizens, Japan has adopted one of the strongest stances of any major country against North Korea.
Japan has supported economic sanctions on North Korea, as well as military drills in the region to deter any potential attack. Recently, Japan has pressed for further diplomatic pressure, such as travel bans and financial prohibitions, on North Korea in response to its missile tests.

Role of South Korea

South Korea has adopted a more conciliatory approach to North Korea, adopting a policy of engagement and negotiations. This has been partly motivated by the desire to avoid a regional conflict, as well as to help bring North Koreans out of poverty and into the broader global community. In this vein, South Korea has adopted its own sanctions against North Korea, as well as opened up channels of communication and cooperation in order to reduce regional tensions.
Recently, South Korean President Moon Jae-In has renewed efforts to engage North Korea, calling for an increase in diplomatic engagement and economic aid. However, this has been met with resistance from North Korea, as well as US opposition, due to prevailing doubts about the efficacy of such a strategy.

Role of Russia

Russia has traditionally had a more muted response to the conflict over North Korea, taking a more hands-off approach and offering only moral support to its allies. This has been driven largely by Russia’s desire to avoid a global or regional conflict, given its own membership of the United Nations Security Council.
However, Russia has also offered its support for a peaceful resolution of the crisis, calling for diplomatic negotiations and economic assistance to North Korea, instead of resorting to military action. This strategy is aimed at reducing tension, while maintaining Russia’s neutral stance in the dispute.

Role of the US

The United States has adopted a hawkish position towards North Korea, spearheaded by the Trump administration. This has seen an increase in economic sanctions, and a toughening of rhetoric from Washington. The US has also backed military action, particularly in response to North Korea’s recent missile tests, but has ultimately rejected such proposals due to their potential for catastrophic casualties.
The US has instead pursued a policy of diplomatic negotiations and economic aid, in the hopes of convincing North Korea to disarm. However, this has been met with opposition from North Korea and its allies, who have dismissed it as an attempt to impose US hegemony on the region.

Cassie Grissom is an American journalist and author living in Seoul, South Korea. She has been studying the Korean peninsula since 2011, and her work focuses on understanding human rights issues in North Korea. In addition to her work as an author, Cassie is an active advocate for human rights in North Korea. She regularly shares stories about life in North Korea with international audiences to raise awareness of the plight of its citizens.

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