North Korea's military: a bad hand played well
South Korea shiny combatant jets slice from side to side the gray sky above an infertile gorge. Tank and troops race cross ways the frozen ground underneath. Helicopters float in perfect formation, strafing the hills with fire.

South Korean drills similar to this one last month send an obvious, intended message: North Korea, in spite of its threats to revolve the South's main city of Seoul into a "sea of fire," cannot vie with such advanced firepower. An armed judgment would seem to give the South a irregular victory, particularly when its superpower ally, the United States, is factored in.

The North though makes up for its shortcoming with a vast and loyal force oversees by leaders with a reputation for callousness and meticulously planned revelation attacks. That will not win a war — North Korea would almost certainly lose a straight face-to-face confrontation — excluding it allows the North to stand up to the wealthier and better prepared south.

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