South Korea is a democracy, a thriving one if measured by the sheer size and energy of its civil society and the stability of its political institutions. But what is happening in South Korea today is deeply disturbing nonetheless.
If war were to break out, the presumed influx of refugees into Russia could create a humanitarian crisis and a burdensome price tag for the Kremlin -- just as it would for China. Russia is similarly vulnerable to any radiation that may blow from the peninsula on to Russian territory.
Truculence reinforced by conciliation guarantees more of the former. But North Korea is no child. Nor should it be treated like one given the catastrophic consequences that war on the Korean peninsula would bring. Yet, analysts tend to exaggerate North's power.