North Korea is a scary place. Ever since I read Red Phoenix in high school, I've been concerned about North Korea as a military threat. Of course, Red Phoenix is just a novel, and the book was mostly concerned with South Korea and our inability to protect it in a conventional war. The problem with North Korea that makes is scarier that, say, Iraq, is that we're technically still at war with them and have been for the past 50 years. Unlike Iraq which we indisputably defeated in Kuwait in 1991, we were stuck in stalemate with North Korea and only our continued presence there ensured that South Korea remained free. (That is, free of communism. South Korea didn't have democratic elections until 1987.) Now North Korea has nuclear weapons and the missile technology to send them at least as far as Japan (whom they hate since Japan invaded them in 1910 and indirectly caused them to be divided between the USSR and USA at the end of WWII) or possibly some US possessions.
If South Korea is worth protecting, with its Hyundais and Samsungs and LGs, then surely Japan, with the 2nd largest economy in the world and our largest agricultural importer is worth protecting. Of course, we're contractually obligated to defend Japan since we kicked their ass in WWII and took away their military. So now North Korea has nukes and could potentially destroy the world's economy for the next 20 years (and lets face it - what do the North Koreans care? Their economy is shit anyway.) as well as millions of American business partners in South Korea and Japan.
We can't really invade North Korea - they have the largest military in the world at 1.2 million soldiers. Despite our overwhelming technological superiority (and the fact that our soldiers are well nourished), the only way we could ensure that we didn't incur unacceptable fatalities would be to nuke the entire peninsula, which is probably a bad idea. Ironic too, since preventing North Korea from doing the same thing would be our rationale for invading in the first place.
The news today is that North Korea is about to test one of its nukes. And the UN is trying to get every country in the world to try to put pressure on Kim Jong-Il to stop. Despite that, this looks like a situation in which military action really is necessary. 1) WMD's are present 2) US interests are being threatened 3) Our allies face the potential of being annihilated 45 seconds after Kim hits the little red button. Unfortunately, we don't seem to have the military capability to do anything more than watch from the sidelines. (I swear I read this a few days ago from a general testifying in front of Congress, but I just can't find it anywhere. Help?) And we've squandered whatever willingness the rest of the world had to follow us. Who will support a military adventure in Korea with us? Most governments around the world would get voted out of office if they cooperated with the US. So watch this weekend as North Korea tests its first nuclear weapon, only days after it tested a missile capable of hitting Seoul or parts of Japan. Watch as a new nuclear power is born while our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, our friends are fighting and dying in a third world country that never had more than chemical weapons, and those 15 years gone. Watch as South Korea and Japan move to kiss North Korea's ass, as the corrupt communist regime benefits from bullying the world. And watch as other rogue countries see this example and do the same. Like I said.... scary.