From a Forbes opinion piece by Doug Bandow:
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is angry with the U.S. again, citing all manner of crimes and misdemeanors. To emphasize its point the DPRK is prosecuting two Americans currently held in the North for “hostile” behavior. [Additionally, another American] Kenneth Bae is serving a prison term, apparently for promoting Christianity while visiting. Pyongyang has been using them as bargaining chips in an attempt to get America’s attention.
Why is North Korea worried about Washington? Because the U.S. military remains deployed in the South 61 years after the end of the Korean War. Washington has turned the otherwise successful Republic of Korea into an international welfare queen, apparently forever stuck on the U.S. defense dole.
Last week North Korea’s deputy UN ambassador, Ri Tong-il, gave a press conference denouncing Washington in florid terms. U.S. behavior “is reminding us of the historical lasting symptoms of a mentally retarded patient,” said Ambassador Ri.
His list of grievances was long [including] that Washington was sabotaging improved inter-Korean relations and ignoring Pyongyang’s proposals for reducing tensions on the peninsula. Although it’s tempting to dismiss Ambassador Ri’s dyspeptic remarks, he made a legitimate point when justifying his nation’s nuclear program: “No country in the world has been living like the DPRK, under serious threats to its existence, sovereignty, survival.” There is much not to like about North Korea, but even paranoids have enemies.
In any war the North would face South Korea, which has vastly outstripped Pyongyang on virtually every measure of national power, and the U.S., the globe’s superpower. East Asia is filled with additional American allies, while the North’s Cold War partners, Moscow and Beijing, have drifted away and almost certainly wouldn’t help in a conflict.
Which raises the question: just what is America doing with troops on the Korean peninsula?
Today the ROK leads the North on most measures of national power. The former has 40 times the GDP, twice the population, all the new technologies, the most important allies, access to international markets, and a system legitimized by elections and popular consent. This is precisely the development the American defense shield was supposed to enable.