Despite likely eye-rolling from the military elite toward certain diplomatic visits in recent months, North Korean generals will likely obey all orders from Kim Jong Un and his relatives. "The North Korean elite depends upon whatever legitimacy they derive from the family's rule," says Sneider.
"I'm not worried about a big war. I'm worried about an escalation that gets out of control. Then all sorts of things are possible," says Sneider. In the case of attacks, South Korea likely won't simply return fire but will plan other attacks.
But both experts agree a peaceful settlement is possible.
"North Korea seems to have pulled the last tactical trick to obtain aid and settle on a peace treaty through direct talks with the U.S.," says Yu. "I think that the U.S. should have an exact understanding of the motives of North Korea, and that based on the lessons they have learned from previous dealings with North Korea they should approach North Korea in a calm and firm manner."
"It's mostly about what's going on in South Korea," says Sneider. "They're going to find a way to take the measure of these guys, one way or the other."
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