North Korea is one huge prison farm, that cannot raise enough food to feed itself, and is full of well armed, and increasingly hungry guards. Now the guards have nuclear weapons. North Korea has been using the threat, of having nuclear weapons, for over a decade, to extort money, food and fuel from the rest of the world. But as long as the current crew of communist bureaucrats are running North Korea, there will, year by year, be a need for more such charity. As more North Koreans try to get out of the prison camp, there will be a need for more repression by the guards. Over two million North Koreans have died from this mistreatment in the last half century. Most of those were killed in the last decade, largely from starvation. Having nuclear weapons, and threatening to use them, is the least of North Korea's sins.
For over a decade, North Korea has been threatening China and South Korea with the "refugee weapon", and that's why these two countries continue to pour aid into North Korea. Nuclear weapons in North Korea won't change that. The North Korean ruling class, the prison guards, are desperate. And desperate animals can be unpredictable. This makes North Korea's neighbors nervous. But what can you do? There is no likely solution that is any good for North Korea's neighbors, although the North Korean people would certainly like a change of government. But brain washed and battered down by over half a century of police state abuse, the prisoners are not in very good shape for anything, except crawling for the exits.
October 8, 2006: Japan, which has intermittently talked about building nuclear weapons over the years, is now rather more serious about it. Many believe that the government actually has a secret nuclear weapons program, held in reserve, and needing only a few months to actually finish up and assemble the weapons. China is not happy about this, especially since the Taiwanese can do the same thing, and may have already done so. And perhaps with Japanese help. The North Korean bomb is about much more than North Korea.
October 7, 2006: North Korea set off a nuclear bomb in a deep cave. Seismograph readings (which can tell the difference between an earth quake, large quantities of high explosives or a nuclear blast) indicated a small bomb, perhaps ten kiloton. It was apparently very similar to the first one set off by the United States 61 years ago. And so North Korean technology boldly enters the 1940s.
October 6, 2006: On the DMZ, South Korean soldiers fired several dozen warning shots when they detected some North Korean soldiers in the DMZ. It was believed that the North Korean troops were just on their way to a stream, and some fishing. Increasingly, the North Korean soldiers venture into the game-rich DMZ to search for food, especially meat. While the North Korean army is better fed than the average North Korean civilian, the soldiers still get less food than their South Korean counterparts, and very little meat.
What's most important about North Korea is what's unsaid. For example, the biggest fear of both China and South Korea is that the North Korean dictatorship would lose control, and millions of refugees would flee to China and South Korea. This would lead to South Korea's biggest nightmare; reunification. South Korea has been studying the 1990s reunification of East and West Germany, and knows that the peace and prosperity South Korea has been enjoying for over a generation, would come to an end with reunification. Most South Korean's are ashamed to admit it, but they wish North Korea would just magically disappear. But North Korea is real, and what China and North Korea were hoping for was economic reform, as happened in China over the last three decades, so that the North Koreans could feed themselves, prosper a little, and not be such a huge potential burden on their neighbors. But the Communist Party officials running North Korea are neither as clever, nor as competent, as the ones who revived the Chinese economy in the 1970s (by legalizing capitalism, but not democracy). The North Korean communists have tried to introduce capitalism, a market economy, and all that. But they screwed it up, and it's not working. Too many greedy, incompetent bureaucrats. North Korea is sliding into the abyss.