Speculation is rife that the device set off by North Korea was either a dud or may have only involved conventional high explosives, based on data picked up by sensors about the explosion. So why would North Korea only set off high explosives? Or was it really a dud?

It seems to me that North Korea may have been “hedging its bet” by setting off only high explosives. If the world reaction was too extreme for North Korean comfort, they could reveal the info about the high explosives. How would North Korea do this and still save face? They might say they were only testing the “triggering” device, and it was the rest of the world which jumped to conclusions, and they are still capable of setting off a nuclear device.

In the alternative, maybe intelligence agencies know very well North Korea just set off a nuclear device, but they want to help the rest of the world save face and diffuse the crisis. If we can pretend there’s a possibility the device wasn’t nuclear, then the world is not put in a position of being forced to react too quickly.

Of course, all of this reminds me, painfully, of when I was in the army and received orders to go to South Korea. It was during a period of time when the North said something to the effect that, if the South continued its provocations, North Korea would turn the South into a “sea of flame.” Therefore, I have always referred to this period of time as the “Sea of Flame Crisis” but my name hasn’t really caught on. Maybe, when the history books are written, my name will be in the running.

I do recall very well what the U.S. did during that period of time. We started sending troops to South Korea. It was very subtle…what I was told, while I was in the army, was that fresh troops would go to South Korea, but instead of rotating out the old troops, the old troops would remain. There was even the artifice of flying out empty planes, supposedly, but maybe this is more of an army urban legend.

My response was to buy language tapes about Korean and learn all about the culture. I learned how to eat kim chee. Now I have a serious kim chee habit, but the orders were canceled. Twice. Twice I received orders to South Korea, both times the orders were cancelled. One set of orders came down on Pearl Harbor Day, which was a heck of a thing, since my dad was at Pearl Harbor during the attack.

My advice to young soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen: learn how to eat kim chee. Learn about Korean culture. This crisis won’t go away like the crisis in the 1990s, and you better start liking kim chee, because soon we will all be in deep kim chee.

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