National Security Situation: In an alternative future the People’s Republic of China invades North Korea.
Date Originally Written: June 10, 2018.
Date Originally Published: August 27, 2018.
Author and / or Article Point of View: This article is written from the point of view of the North Korean Defense Minister personally briefing his Supreme Leader regarding a potential Chinese invasion, circa 2020.
Background: Our nation, in truth, owes our existence to our allies in China for their assistance in our most desperate hour in our war to liberate our Southern Comrades. For this reason, many of our nuclear research and weapons storage facilities were placed within 160 kilometers of their border, to use the Chinese radar and anti-air umbrellas as additional deterrents to American adventurism.
However, our friendship with China has slowly deteriorated, often because they have not always agreed with our decisions when dealing with the U.S. and our Southern Comrades.
Moreover, since our efforts to begin improving relationships with our Southern Comrades, the U.S., and the outside world began during the 2018 Winter Olympics, our relationship with China has soured quickly. It is also not a secret that the Chinese have welcomed and supported our existence as a buffer state between their borders and that of our ambitious Southern Comrades and their U.S. allies.
The Chinese have long desired a port on the Sea of Japan, and they have spent time and money improving the route between their mostly Korean population of Jillian province and our port-city of Rasan. We have long-standing agreements allowing them to access our ports with little-to-no customs interference, and they fear that unification will sever their access.
Finally, the Chinese have been moving to consolidate territory they consider to be theirs, rightfully or not, as a means to push their dominance onto other nations. The Chinese have entered into territorial disputes with the Japanese, our Southern Comrades, the Vietnamese, and the Indians. The Chinese have long argued that Mount Baektu, the spiritual homeland of our nation, belongs to them; however, maps and treaties for centuries have either split the mountain down the middle, or made it wholly ours. On this, our Southern Comrades agree: the mountain must not be wholly consumed in a Chinese land grab.
Significance: Our intelligence agencies have determined the Chinese have activated the three Army Groups on our border and intend to invade within the next 48 to 72 hours. Their goals are to seize our nuclear facilities and many of our northern provinces, most likely from Mount Paektu east to the Sea of Japan. With most of our forces either aligned towards the south or beginning to stand down in conjunction with peace talks, we are outnumbered approximately three-to-one.
Option #1: We fight alone.
Risk: This is a high risk answer because we do not have enough forces in place at this time, and our transportation infrastructure will be the logical first targets in the opening moments of the war. Our fighter jets, though we have many of them, are antiquated compared to the Chinese air forces. We do have an advantage in geography: Beijing is close, within our missile range across the Yellow Sea.
Tactically, we would order our forces to hold as long as possible while we brought our southern army groups to bear. We have the advantages of interior lines, more troops, a populace that is willing to bear any sacrifice against invaders, and incredibly defensible terrain. We would have to gamble that our Southern comrades would not strike at the same time across the demilitarized zone.
However, if our nuclear launch facilities were in danger of getting overrun by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), there might be a very real choice in which we must “use-them-or-lose-them” concerning our nuclear weapons. Millions of Chinese are in range of our weapons, including their capital, but the reprisals would be fierce, our nation as we know it would most likely not survive.
Gain: We would show the world that our nation is strong and unconquerable, provided we won. There is a significant chance we would not be able to move our forces in time and would have to concede our northern provinces, though our nation as a whole would survive.
Option #2: We ask only our Southern Comrades and long-time allies for assistance.
Risk: Our Southern Comrades have always agreed and supported our territorial claims on the global stage, as we have supported theirs. No matter our differences, we are all Korean, and stand united against outsiders. Asking for their support would add their technologically advanced forces to our order of battle, thousands of well-trained and motivated infantrymen plus their supporting forces, and a transportation network stretching from Busan to Rasan. Asking our international allies—such as Sweden—for diplomatic support would put pressure on China both internationally and economically, and would be a way for our nation to gain global support for our cause and condemnation of China’s activities without their active military participation.
However, there would be no return to a pre-war status quo, no chance of our nation surviving independently. Asking for assistance and allowing the military forces of the south into our nation and fighting side-by-side as one Korea means that, once the war is over, we would reunite as one Korea. Finally, it can be safely assumed our Southern Comrades will not allow us to use our nuclear weapons against China, no matter what the cost.
Gain: This option gains us the military of the South without allowing in the U.S. or other allies, maintaining the pretense of a Korea-only problem. This allows nations that might not feel comfortable fully siding with us an option to save face by aligning with our allies and conducting diplomatic and economic battle with China while remaining out of the active conflict. Finally, fighting side-by-side with only our Southern Comrades puts us in the best position to ensure both the survival of our regime leadership and bargain for our people as we reunite with the south after the war.
Option #3: We ask assistance from any who offer.
Risk: It is likely assured our Southern Comrades would immediately join with us to fend off an invasion. It is trickier to know the actions of the Americans, among others. The Americans would have the most to lose fighting a war with China, their biggest creditor and a major trading partner. But it could also be offered the Americans have the most to gain, a war against China as a possible means of clearing their debt.
As problematic as accepting U.S. assistance may be, there could be other nations that bring with them a host of issues. Our people would be loath to accept Japanese military assistance, though they have technological capabilities on par with the U.S. and China. Accepting Russian help once again puts us in their debt, and they always demand repayments in some form or another. We may be unwilling to pay the costs of Russian assistance down the road.
Finally, accepting outside assistance means our post-war reintegration will be shaped by nations outside of Korea. These outside nations desire a unified Korea to meet their needs, which is not necessarily the nation we are meant to be.
Gain: The Americans, and others, would bring with them the capability of expanding the war, striking the Chinese around the globe, and attacking their supply lines, ensuring that the Chinese populace felt the pinch of the war, not only the PLA. This global striking would probably dramatically shorten the war and reduce casualties among our brave fighting divisions. Additionally, the U.S. could rally the world to our cause, bringing with them military, diplomatic, humanitarian, and economic aid.
Other Comments: None.
 AP (2012, August 22) NKorea’s economic zone remains under construction. Retrieved 14 June 2018. https://web.archive.org/web/20120823065244/http://www.thestate.com/2012/08/22/2408642/nkoreas-economic-zone-remains.html#.WyLBFWYUnxh
 Panda, A. (2017, October 22). The Doklam Standoff Between India and China is far from over. Retrieved 14 June 2018. https://thediplomat.com/2017/10/the-doklam-standoff-between-india-and-china-is-far-from-over/
 Lych, O. (2006, July 31) China seeks U.N. Title to Mt. Beakdu. Retrieved 14 June 2018. http://english.donga.com/List/3/all/26/248734/1
 New York Times, (2016, September 27). For South Koreans, a long detour to their holy mountain. Retrieved 14 June 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/27/world/asia/korea-china-baekdu-changbaishan.html