Does North Korea need US intervention to turn it into a democratic country? There is the historical example of Japan. This photo taken September 2, 1945, in Tokyo Bay shows US General Douglas MacArthur (with pen), as supreme allied commander, presiding over formal Japanese surrender ceremonies on the USS Missouri. MacArthur then in the immediate postwar period presided over the transformational Occupation. Photo: AFP / US National Archives, HQ/Files

Late on Monday US time, news broke that Kim Jong Un might be on his deathbed after an April 12 cardiovascular surgery. This would explain why he was missing in action from Day of the Sun festivities celebrating his late grandfather Kim Il Sung’s 108th birthday on April 15. 

News of his surgery, which was originally reported by Daily NK, was called fake by Yonhap, sparking side debates. Daily NK is supported by US$400,000 in grants from the US National Endowment for Democracy. Yonhap News is funded by the South Korean government. 

It is safe to say that Daily NK based its information on something leaked from one of the US government’s listening posts, while the South Korean government’s agenda is strictly to maintain good relations with the North by providing shade for the Pyongyang regime. 

However, that is neither here nor there for me. For the purpose of this post, I will just assume that Kim will die before an heir can achieve proper age and training to fill his shoes.

Regarding America’s contingency plans for Kim Jong Un’s death, Fox News reported that “a well-placed defense intelligence source” says the intelligence community expects a humanitarian crisis would occur upon KJU’s sidelining or death, and the hope is that China would step in to help manage the situation. 

I think most Pyongyangologists would expect some political infighting and power struggles until a new leader emerges. In North Korea’s patriarchal society, I expect a brutal Korean People’s Army (KPA) general would emerge victorious in that power struggle, rather than Kim’s wife, sister or daughter. 

Meanwhile, the draconian regime would lock down the entire country and punish all “wavering” persons. Many would starve to death. 

Why does the US always expect China to step in, especially after the destruction of US-China relations following our economic breakup with Beijing and the Covid-19 crisis? 

We should maximize the opportunity to promote US interests by showing average North Koreans who the good guys are – America, in case you wondered. 

We should do a full-scale intervention.

For nearly a decade I have argued that the only way to liberate North Koreans is to bombard them with “radical guerrilla engagement.” I have also argued that my proposals have never been taken seriously because nobody truly has an interest in ending the Korean War. 

As mentioned above, after Kim Jong Un dies I expect a hardliner KPA general to emerge from power struggles as the new dictator; and I expect he would be the most ruthless and brutal dictator in regime history — which says a lot. 

American intervention looks like economic engagement; peace forces; sending food and supplies with “Made in America” packaging, and American personnel to distribute those goods; American doctors; American educators; American media; American political advisors; and average American citizens permitted to travel there again – to name a few. Also, obviously, we should be doing all kinds of information warfare and PSYOPS in the background. 

I know most don’t want to hear it, but turning a dictatorship into a democracy requires that we actually spread democracy throughout North Korea by directly engaging the regime, on the ground, and wait for the seeds of democracy to sprout. 

But I digress. Nobody truly has an interest in ending the Korean War.

Michael Bassett served his country honorably for 20 combined years as a soldier, contractor and civil servant. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from American University, blogs at and is a certified Harley-Davidson technician who lives in Iowa with his wife and their pets.