For John, BLUF: The North Korean Leader is a bit unstable and war is a possibility. Nothing to see here; just move along.
I am assuming this is just normal saber rattling, but North Korea (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea—DPRK) seems to be under some stress and this might be more than that, which would be unfortunate. From Yonhap News (South Korea) we have "50 N. Korean submarines away from base".
SEOUL, Aug. 23 (Yonhap) -- More than 50 North Korean submarines are apparently away from their bases for operations, a sign that the North is gearing up for combat while participating in high-level talks aimed at easing tension, an official here said Sunday.Again, from Yonhap News (South Korea) we have "N. Korea forward deploys amphibious landing crafts carrying special forces".
"Seventy percent of North Korea's submarines left their bases, and their locations are not confirmed," the South Korean military official told reporters.
Special Forces are a big deal in the North Korean Army.
Here is something from China (PLA is China's Peoples Liberation Army), "PLA troops head to DPRK border as North-South tensions mount".
So, is this move to (1) deter ROK-US forces, (2) restrain DPRK forces, (3) join DPRK forces, or (4) some combination of the three? The thing to keep in mind is that deploying troops any distance is not a free lunch. It costs money. It disrupts the free flow of commerce (which costs citizens money and the Government taxes). It is disruptive of normal training activities.
One of the problems for DPRK Leader Kim Jung Un is the question of if he mobilizes and gives guns and ammunition to all military personnel he will not be sure who the guns will be pointed at. Kim Jung Un has killed many of the military elite in the last 3 years because he did not trust them, but now he will have to give ammunition to people who he can not trust at all, and who may not trust him. Then there is the pressing 10 Oct event, where North Korea may need excuses as to why they can not meet what they promised. That could be ugly. War may be easy.
Then there is this:
Foreign Ministry weighing offers from Dennis Rodman, Donald Trump, and Kim Kardashian to mediate present crisis with south Korean puppets.
[It is a fake Twitter site.]
Regards — Cliff