Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty
In his most intensive drive for power over the Korean peninsula since his father’s death more than 12 years ago, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is mounting a blitzkrieg of weapons tests and rhetoric. His goal: to convince both his own people and his enemies that he’ll risk a second Korean War to reunite North and South Korea under one-man rule.
Buoyed by his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kim is shipping artillery shells and missiles for Russian forces bogged down in Ukraine while spreading fears of a grand plan to take over South Korea. The dream is to fulfill the vision of his grandfather, regime founder Kim Il Sung, who tried and failed to conquer the South in the first Korean War.
Kim’s big talk, his decision to give up all pretense of dealing with South Korea, above all his dedication to a nuclear program capable of inflicting mass death from Northeast Asia to the U.S., has experts forecasting more and bigger weapons tests—on top of unremitting threats.