A lot of people say that "we should have made a revolution", what they mean is that the "free", externally imposed peaceful transition may not have been the best thing in the long run.
Now that I'm older, approaching 30, I'm learning what this mean. Basically, we got rid of the soviets, we got ourselves a democracy, but the political and economic system hasn't changed enough. We have very high levels of debt, we don't have good politicians or political parties, we have lots of corruption, high and constantly changing taxes, high administrative overhead, the so-called redistribution factor is 50% (meaning every second dollar produced is eaten up by the gov't and then redistributed to its network of "friendly" companies through gov't jobs, projects and grants or sent abroad to pay interest). Yesterday I went to a meeting where I learned that the buzzword "innovation" is defined in hungarian state documents as getting a gov't grant and then doing something with that.
We're doing a startup, and one of the first question we usually get is "which grant did you get?". When we say we didn't, that we bootstrapped ourselves people think we're crazy.
I don't know whether we would have been better off with a not-so-peaceful transition, and nobody wants violence in their country, but we definitely need some kind of politico-economic "revolution". Unfortunately, I'm beginning to think we don't have the necessary political resources (good people on the state side) for that. I don't think a smart and good-intentioned person today goes into politics here.
So, based on my experiences here --- given how much they're behind economically, politically and technically --- unless the North Koreans overthrow Kim Jong-il themselves, they're pretty much fucked for the next 50-100 years, because no externally imposed force will magically fix their system for free. Their best bet is to unite with South Korea in a painful way (eg. forget their own laws, taxes, gov't agencies and crappy gov't run companies, which means tons of people loose their job, and adopt what they have in South Korea), the way East Germany united with West Germany.
Of course, I'm just a programmer, so what do I know =)
I don't think this is a localised phenomenon. PG mentioned in one of his essays that following the industrial revolution and the rise of modern-day capitalism, a lot of the driven individuals who would have gone into politics, now decide to go into business.
Here in the UK, we had a lot of noise made about political reform this year after a fraught, tense election. Talking with friends about it though, we feel that nothing is likely to change until the type of politicians we have changes, and that seems unlikely to happen. All the people we think would make good politicians don't want to go into politics, and we end up with a situation where we just get career politicians who grow up with a particular way of thinking and a particular mindset regarding politics.
All the clever, driven people are busy running startups. Who'd take politics over that?
No. Don't fall into the "my profession is smarter than everyone else trap". There are very many very smart people with something to contribute to governance who have no interest in running startups.
I used to feel this way, and it's actually part of the problem. It makes it ok for techies to disengage, politically.
We've had a case here in the Toronto mayoral election where I now wish that I'd done some organizing, instead of just voting. Voting is not enough when the issues really matter. Your opponents know this, and will use it against you.
I would recommend following and getting involved in local politics.
Yes, bureaucracy is frustrating, but you have to deal with that in business too. Not all companies are < 20 person shops.
Don't disengage. Your opponents won't.
UPDATE> We're used to hearing sermons on the importance of voting. The thing is -- your individual vote doesn't matter. What matters much more is how well you can organize others to vote in support of your goals.
I'm sure there are a great many able-minded potential good politicians in many other sectors of business, as well as other areas like charity-work or the armed forces.
The point is not 'which non-political area are they in', the point is 'they're in ANY non-political area'.
These days UK politics looks more like an extended and expensive reality TV contest where people say/do anything to get into and maintain power purely for the sake of it.
Democracy can be viewed as an attempt to make career politicians listen to the demands of normal people.
I know a few engineers, academic scientists, lawyers, medics and people in the armed forces who meet both of those criteria to a level at least equaled by any start-up founder I have ever met.
I don't think anyone will say that Pres. Obama is not brilliant. Many people might argue about his goals, but I don't think that anyone could argue in good faith that he has failed spectacularly at bringing about the change that he promised.
(not to pick on Democrats alone; GOP politicians have obviously failed every bit as much, even though some of them have brilliant minds as well)
Luckily they don't overlap too much, you can't really be elected to federal offices in your 20s.
Now will an engineer beat a lawyer? (because odds are, my future campaign will be against a lawyer), who knows.
That said, the problem of government-sponsored innovation, which you mention, isn't exclusive to post-communist countries. It is an (extremely wrong) EU policy.
I don't see how a revolution instead of a peaceful transition would help in any sense.
Everybody thought that re-establishing Democracy (with a capital D, to signify a pervasive culture of democracy along with ethics, not just a political system) would take several years. It turns out it might take generations.
The worst part is that people are used to subsidized life and instead of DOING something they expect the government will provide.
This. I'd call this attitude the number one problem across most of Europe. (bad political climate is a massive problem, but I think its root cause is this) Riots in France due to raised pension age? Multiple attempts at budget reform in various countries failing? Students on the streets complaining about studying conditions due to poor funding?
Something has to give, and we're approaching the point where the answer isn't "higher taxes" anymore. (we're already well beyond the "more debt" option) Except nobody is willing to sacrifice anything personally.
Eg. as I describe in a post below, our current gov't is using its current power to change the constitution to better fit its short term political goals, in other words they don't respect it, unlike eg. the way the U.S. Constitution is a symbol of the country's core social values.
Rules chosen in haste are very far from guaranteed to be better than what they replace. Most likely, in the massive rush to replace everything, cronies and political allies will carve off chunks, loopholes etc. to profit from.
The USA is different in that its institutions grew up over a few hundred years, starting out with a fairly trivial population and minimal government over a primarily agricultural people, and growing the state in response to crises. It's certainly important that it had a very good core in the constitution and the early amendments (bill of rights etc.); but that just laid down the architecture of what grew like a crystal afterwords.
Unfortunately, there's a brand of anacho-libertarianism in certain influential chunks of American thought, especially in economic circles, which believes that government itself is evil, and that if you only overthrow it, everything will be better. They tried that with shock therapy in Russia, and to a degree even tried it again in Iraq - no planning for aftermath etc.
It's my opinion that almost every part of a well-functioning state is balanced between strain in multiple directions, getting larger and getting smaller, regulating more and regulating less, clamping down on moral offenses and easing back on others, etc. These kinds of strains oscillate with the political winds, and the organizations that are grown in prevailing winds are stunted in one direction or another, and only corrected when they've gone too far, in a crisis.
In the light of this metaphor, it should be clear that an overthrow isn't the right recipe to grow a good new state: the organization won't have had the time and crises to grow in balance with its competing stresses. Instead, the immediate insiders will be unstoppable political gales, deep structural faults will be embedded into the heart of the operation that guarantee the politically favoured factions rents for decades to come.
I speak of an Irishman, who has, of late, longed for a revolution in my homeland, but recognizes it for the folly it would be. My country's primary problem is that it has too many representatives, too much clientelism, too much of politics is cynically local, and above all too much voting is based on tribal allegiances that date back to civil war nearly 100 years ago.
In other words without a clean swipe, the power structures are still maintained making it possible for those who ruled before to rule again even if their titles are new.
I don't know what the answer is, but I have a feeling it's not violence. The countries of former Yugoslavia to me don't seem to be doing better than those that emerged from Soviet rule peacefully. It's hard to judge from the outside, but the societal problems there seem even deeper.
I think you are concentrating on the wrong word: "peaceful" instead of "external". A revolution need not be violent, and either way it implies that there is a real chance a sufficient percentage of citizens is ready to move on from the current system although both violent and peaceful revolutions are prone to slipping back toward the old system or some other form of authoritarianism, for different reasons: violence also attracts the wrong elements whether in itself or as opportunists whereas a peaceful transition may not be able to remove all the remnants of the old system.
The fundamental idea, though, is that the society needs to be ready and willing to change internally. In a way, as much as it infantilizes people, when most of a nation has grown up with a powerful authority, it is hard if not impossible to go straight to relative liberty. Part of it is cultural, part of it is the seeming evolutionary human trait of being either submissive (most people) or dominant (few people). It takes some time for a submissive person to learn to fend for themselves, and as we see with "highly developed" societies today, many are still highly susceptible to needing leaders.
Of the famous recentish revolutions, it should for example be remembered that Marx stipulated the "communist revolution" should happen in the highly industrialised nations (ill-advised as the idea of armed revolution is). Russia in particular, a backwards agrarian empire, was about the last place he thought would be ready for it. And turned out he was right.
Edit: clarified wording of drawbacks of violent/peaceful revolutions.
Hmmmm, communist regime turned the agrarian empire into world's 2nd industrial power, that won the biggest battles in human history and was the 1st to send robots and humans to space.
Russia until the first world war was one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, though from a low base. So you can't really compare, without a time machine.
Do not forget the marxist model was exported by Russia wherever it could (Easter Europe block pops in mind) and failed in every case even if the country was industrialised. It is just plain wrong. Even China ditched it and now has real chances of becoming a superpower.
A) An internal revolution (borne out of people's desire to change their system in the idealised version);
B) An already-failed-at-communism totalitarian state's external enforcement of totalitarianism upon a mostly unwilling populace.
The latter will, of course, not work. The former might.
And about Hungary and economy, there is a Diaspora of tech workers from Hungary; the country is obviously badly managed. A pity.
And about revolution, don't forget that Hungary tried one:
It might have been that history which resulted in harder Soviet control -- and a bit worse transfer to freedom, than the rest of Eastern Europe in 1989?
You can probably tell, but I think not.
Violence thrown into the fray only makes matters worse. IMHO
4 years ago a voice recording was leaked, where our democratically elected president (F. Gyurcsany), who's been in power for 4 years, said in an internal party-meeting that "we fucked the country up really bad".
As a result, tens of thousands of people, including me, went out on the streets to protest and demand he resign. A very small fraction of people (a few 10s, mostly soccer huligans) started burning cars and breaking windows. Police responded of course, and shot tear gas and rubber ammo at the crowd, I remember a tear gas canister almost hit me on the head. The mayhem continued for a couple of days, plus we had another similar situation a couple of weeks later on a nat'l holiday. (The damage caused by the huligans to fellow citizen's and gov't property was probably around a few million dollars.)
In the end the president did not resign, which I thought is outrageous, but with police shooting at mostly peaceful protesters, including members of parliament from the opposing party being hit in the head with rubber bullets (not pretty), public opinion shifted, so eventually, 2 years later he did resign, and then in the 2010 election his party went from ~45% support to ~15% support. So overall, the protests and ensuing mayhem worked in the sense that it, and the goverment's response to it shifted public opinion.
So what happened after?
The then-opposing party went from ~45% support to >66% support, they won the elections a couple of months ago, which is important because in our system if you have >66% you can basically pass any law (2/3 majority).
So we were all pretty hopeful that the then-opposition, now ruling party would use its huge popular support and power to do great things.
The verdict is not out yet, but it seems that these guys, although they're very much different from their predecessors, aren't that good either, and unfortunately with their 2/3 parliament majority they can wreak parliamentary havoc (eg. they just changed the constitution to fit their short term political goals). A friend of mine more knowledgable in politics said that our system is basically not designed for a single party to have a 2/3 majority.
Final twist: the then-president F. Gyurcsany is actively working on his comeback =)
So, overall I do think that sometimes you gotta go out to the streets and protest, because it does have an effect, but as the above example shows, it's all pointless if you don't have good politicians to take over.
Who knows. The German unification is still a work in progress today.
EDIT: As pointed out we do not have the longest working hours in europe, but we do in "western" europe.
And I was too hasty to describe the UK has having never had a revolution, I should perhaps constrain it to "the English."
The most recent case that I can think of, was that soldiers had to patrol Glasgow with tanks in 1919 to suppress what was perceived, probably incorrectly, as an attempt at a Marxist revolution.
At a small scale things like the Battle of the Braes on Skye where people stood up to the Clearances eventually led to huge reform in the shape of the Crofting Act.
So I would hardly say that we've never revolted.
[Edit: And of course there is the history of the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland as well]
It was a long time ago but it was a very important turning point in British history as it has lead to a transition from a strong king & weak parliament monarchy to a weak king & strong parliament monarchy and eventually constitutional monarchy and democracy.
1. Continuation of the status quo. The DPRK stays a basket case and continues lashing out locally but nothing major happens.
2. Hot war breaks out (precipitated by the DPRK or the South or the US), the North loses fairly quickly, there are catastrophic civilian casualties in the South and the North and perhaps elsewhere (e.g. the North launches a nuke or chemical weapons or what-have-you against Japan or the US, just 'cause it can), American military losses are comparatively minor in comparison to everything else. Ultimately, the industrial base and economy of the Korean peninsula is in shambles and is all the worse for having to deal with bringing the North into the 20th (let alone 21st) century, despite lots of foreign aid it's still a shitty situation for a lot of people for a long, long time.
3. The DPRK regime falls from within relatively peacefully. The North and South reunite and a crap-ton of effort and struggle is necessary to bring the North out of the dark ages. It's a crappy situation except for the Northerners who had been abused and/or starving, but it's still a hell of a lot better than option 2.
4. China forces the DPRK regime to step down through some means and takes over control of North Korea (either via direct annexation or through proxy control). Hostilities in the region diminish greatly and conditions improve for the North Koreans. It's a crappy situation but still better than option 1 or 2.
There are lots of other things that could happen, of course, but I think these options take up the bulk of the probability space.
5. China topples the NK regime and offloads the starving nation onto South Korea. That would ensure the end of Korean competition for decades, as the economic price of reunification would be humongous, yet the Koreans would not be able to turn this offer down.
Combine the technological advancements of South Korea with a pool of 'cheap' North Korean labor and you've got the makings of an economic powerhouse. Not that South Korea is not in it's own right.
North Korea is poor because of the way their resources are squandered, not because of the geography or the people. North Korea could easily feed itself if it stopped buying missiles and developing nuclear weapons.
This world in arms in not spending money alone.
It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.
It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.
It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.
It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.
We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.
We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.
This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
Key issue here is whether the influx of cheap unqualified labor will outweigh the necessary investments into infrastructure, reeducation, integration and peacemaking for the territories.
China can do that because of in their political system the concept of Human Rights is basically none-existent. The ruling elite can treat some portion of their population as they please and they don't have to answer to anybody.
I doubt that it would stall the South Korean economy quite as much as you imagine. There would be a lot of foreign aid coming in as well as foreign investment. And economic growth in the North would likely be rapid. It's one of those things that we won't really know how it'll go until it happens (if it does).
Not so fast. The North has millions of trained, ready soldiers and nukes, and a single-minded determination to fight to the end. A full-blown war would cost millions of lives on all sides, and a win for us is not certain at all. It could easily end with a bloody stalemate and new truce after they've conquered most of the south and we lose the will to send >100,000 US soldiers to die. Just look at how it went the first time. The army of North Korea is quite formidable.
If the South tried to invade the North, the DPRK army could probably wage an effective guerilla war. But if you're invading another country, you don't have that advantage.
The first Iraq war demonstrated that in conventional military confrontations, obsolete tanks and aircraft have little chance against their more modern counterparts. The DPRK would also have to cross the most heavily fortified DMZ in the world, and somehow maintain a supply chain with enemy forces controlling the air and sea. It wouldn't really work.
Iraq invasion also showed that to be true. However, war is not won until ground troops get a hold of control over conquered area - which is something US troops never were able to do (not counting japan after WWII - which is not the same as modern conflicts).
That said, I'm also not entirely convinced a guerilla war would be successful, either. The foundation of DPNK propaganda is Korean nationalism, and a good guerilla war needs an enemy that can be demonised. It would be tricky for the DPNK to try and paint the South as inhuman after harping on about unification for so long.
The last Korean war was backed by opposing superpowers, but North Korea doesn't have anyone backing it up this time. China is sympathetic because it doesn't like the idea of NK refugees flooding over its border, but it's not going to help out if a conflict begins.
If that is true, then don't hold your breath for too much of changes in the NK status quo.
I believe the only long-term solution to NK is education of their people, which will hopefully lead to either progressive reform of the regime, or even revolution.
Education is happening right now with Internet slowly penetrating the country, notably via black market cell phones. Edit: as one of the child posts point out, propaganda is eroding. Change is on its way!
Wonder if'd be better to go with mesh networking all the way, or to parachute/hide cells with satellite dishes.
It would be more interesting if you weight the China factor in. I do believe that the current Communist Party in China has strong interest to keep the current status in NK.
Just imagine how hard it would be to give the North in an united Korea something as ordinary as a working public administration. Those who now have that job in North Korea probably aren’t the best material for the task and I doubt that many other people in North Korea are sufficiently educated to put them to work immediately. You would have to ship thousands of South Koreans with the right training to the North – I have no idea how you could lure them – who would presumably have to stay there for years to take over public administration and educate people from the North. And that’s just one of the problems you would have to solve in order to unify Korea.
Do you not think there are many people in North Korea willing to work 16 hour days to have enough money to buy food? Do you not think there are people willing to employ people to work 16 hour days for enough to buy food?
I'm not saying this is an ideal situation, however it is a vastly better situation than that which currently exists. North Korea survives on a shoe string, it would not be difficult to match this with foreign aid, let alone the capital investment that would pour into a free North Korea. China was in a similar situation 30 years ago.
Waiting longer to solve this problem will not make it easier, everyday North Korea falls further behind the rest of the world.
Also, maybe neither the US, S Korea or China want to see a collapse of the region with all refugees that would ensue ? Comparison with east germany is out of touch IMO: difference between south and north korea are much, much wider (not to diminish East Germany shortcomings, but most of its population was not dying from hunger AFAIK), and whereas German reunification happened after Soviet collapse, China is not about to collapse.
Also, West Germany was the top economy of western Europe, and much bigger in population than East Germany (14 millions vs ~ 60 millions in 1990, whereas N Korea is around 25 millions for 45 in South Korea).
In this case, I'm not yet convinced that there is anything going on here besides North Korea yet again yanking everybody's chain. I sure hope that's what it is. I'm watching for further escalation and China's response.
And as much as I hate to pointlessly rag on China -- its not clear to me that the Chinese have purposely caused this as much as they've just been distracted and neglectful -- somebody pointed out the other day that wherever in the world you find gross human rights abuses and festering problems nobody seems to be able to fix, somewhere in the background there's always China.
This situation bears some concern and watching
I'm not sure what you're getting at here. Are you saying that you look scared and lots of people are pointing it out to you? Or are you saying that the fear of the Korean people is suppressed and projected upon the foreign nationals living within the country?
Russia wants an upper hand in European missile shield negotiations. There's also a Russia-Japan situation, where both countries are still in de-jure state of war, and they've been positioning themselves recently to finally sign the peace treaty. It's worth noting that Russia's role in this conflict seems to be smaller than China's.
There's a new perspective is opening up with a new Supreme Leader taking over any time now. He has not seen the war, neither he has seen much of human suffering, and that's a dangerous trait to have while having control over nuclear weapons. To me, this is the scariest part of the puzzle.
Secondly I don't think that any military action in north korea is possible without huge consequences, huge number of casualties both South Korean civilians and coalition forces. The dprk has been watching our moves for the past 60 years and despite what our media wants us to believe, we are not as invincible as we think we are. For one we westerners don't have the stomach to accept the sheer number of casualties, time and time again this has always been one of our critical weaknesses as evidence by the current war in iraq and the vietnam war. The US would never accept another Vietnam. Our military planners know this and have geared our troops for surgical strikes and precession. North korea has built countless number of tunnels and underground bunkers. If you watched one of the videos from the reporters who sneaked in a camera in, their subway systems are designed to double as troop bunkers.
I'm inclined to believe that for whatever reason the western media always seems to downplay the the north koreans. Very few countries have the organization and the will to carry out total war with the US. What a lot of people don't get is that they've been playing this defense game for over a millenia. It been well known suspicion that the DPRK export their trench/tunnel warfare tech to Vietnam.
It's a shame the koreas being sandwiched between china, russia, japan and the us with each vying for their own interests. It's a shitty situation which plays to NK's advantage.
Imho, the only solution is a blitz decapitation. Allowing the petulant DKRP to steer the course of events by violence whenever they feel like it is insanity. Allowing them to enhance their war making capabilities is also insanity.
It is as if Canada were belligerent towards the US and would sink our ships and lob artillery at Detroit without regard. All the while building a nuclear weapons stockpile. I do not think the American people would let that stand.
On the other hand there has been 60 years or so of cold peace with far less casualties than full blown hostilities would incur. The only problem is that the South has lived under a threat of constant war in that time.
Seoul is only 35 miles from the border with North Korea. The North has artillery which can hit Seoul, hence the South needs to be very careful not to provoke the North. Any engagement would be costly.
Next you'll tell me that we'll walk into NK as liberators...
The whole Shi'a/Sunni division is blown out of proportion by intelligence agencies, both foreign and local, trying to alienate Iran.
If the Koreans are "connected", the Iraqis are intertwined. Intermarriage is very common, with couples maintaining their own sectarian identity.
I was raised as Sunni (not in Iraq) but have attended a Shi'ite religious school for a whole year .. without realizing. That's how similar the two are.
History appears to like iteration.
But again, what do I know? I'm a westerner programmer with limited sociopolitical knowledge.
Canada is much different geographically and geopolitically than North Korea, also North Korea ISN'T on the US doorstep.
As a better example of what would happen to North Korea if it were on the US doorstep, look towards Cuba. The US by and large tolerates Cuba to exist in it's current form as long as it does not pose a significant threat to US interests. If Cuba decided to stockpile nuclear weapons you'd see a much different reaction.
Since the 50s the DKRP has been essentially in China's hemisphere of influence under it's own unwritten version of the monroe doctorine.
I don't think China will abandon North Korea but I also don't think they would be as willing to support North Korea as they have done in the past.
That's not a difficult matter. Unlike the situation between the US and Russia in the 50-60's, China is heavily dependent on trade with the US and the rest of the world.
Step 1: Cut off all trade with China.
Step 2: All Chinese-owned T-bills are declared null and void and Chinese assets at US banks are seized. (Followed by some forensic accounting to track down bonds they own through subsidiaries.)
Step 3: Japan/SK will almost certainly do the same. So would Taiwan if they want to stay under our military umbrella.
If steps 1-3 haven't completely destroyed China's economy:
Step 4: Naval blockade. Any cargo ships entering or leaving a Chinese port are seized.
China has a lot to lose, and very little to gain. If we were serious about overthrowing NK, China would be foolish engage in open hostilities in an attempt to stop us. All they could really do is play passive aggressive games that would make our life marginally harder.
Hell, the Soviet Union and the US during the cold war assumed it would be retard hard, if not impossible to wipe out each other's entire chain of command. And they had nukes. And they tried REALLY hard.
EDIT: actually the nuclear war is beside the point. Just that conventional shelling South Korea while having a number of deliverable nukes on hold might become a weekly routine for the North.
The first hour of a full-on war on the Korean peninsula would make 9/11 look like a day at the park and would generate more civilian casualties in an industrialized first world nation than any event since WWII.
The second order effects of losing South Korea don't bear thinking about, either. Everybody saw how fast the dominoes fell when 10% of one sliver of American mortgage holders decided to go late, right? If Seoul gets burned, several hundred billion dollars worth of high quality bonds held by primarily Japanese and American financial institutions burn with it. That would put the market into pure, unrestrained panic within literally seconds. It would get worse over the coming months as countries who traded heavily with South Korea (let's see: China, Japan, Taiwan, US, etc) saw their orders go to near zero and had their supply chains dependent on SK products start blocking on input.
Plus, in the middle of this, Obama gets to make a phone call to whomever takes over when the Japanese government falls and say "Listen, I know you're kind of spooked at the moment and have just been elected on a platform of We Must Stop North Korea, but please please please please don't announce nuclear capability despite that being within the capability of Japanese industry in a matter of weeks. China would get a trifle upset."
I would think the goal would be to save as many humans as possible (while, admittedly, probably not willing to trade South Korean lives for North Korean lives) and toppling the regime in North Korea as quickly as possible. I don’t know whether that includes nuclear weapons. I would hope that nobody would be willing to launch a nuclear weapon just to kill as many North Koreans as possible.
The deciding factor might be China's position on the matter. It provides quite a bit of support for North Korea and whether the USA would want to get dragged into a conflict that might escalate beyond the Korean peninsula remains to be seen.
Having said that I don't think there is a significant risk of serious conflict since it is in China's long term interest to keep some form of low-level conflict with the USA or its allies going in the area, if only to further its territorial ambitions with the Spratly Islands, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spratly_Islands and other parts of the South China Sea which apparently has significant old reserves.
And presupposes that North Korea choses the least self-destructive action.
The only reason they let DPRK get away with these types of attacks is that the cost of reunification would be so great as to cripple the south korean economy for decades. From an economic perspective it costs less to maintain the status quo than to force a reunification. Ditto from China's perspective, they will pay a steep price for reunification as well.
The situation is in good hands without the US meddling. If the S. Koreans and the Chinese aren't freaking out, that means its under control.
Doesn't mean he won't, though.