Defector Warns US Attack on North Korea Would Trigger Retaliation

High-Ranking Defector Says Troops Ordered to Fire 'If Anything Happens'

Once again underscoring the long-standing warning that there is no such thing as a “limited” war with North Korea, Thae Yong Ho, the highest level defector from North Korea in decades, testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee that retaliation was considered “automatic” within North Korea’s military.

Thae, who was the deputy chief of North Korea’s Embassy in London, testified that North Korean troops are ordered to fire at South Korean targets “if anything happens,” with no orders to retaliate required after the fact.

Tens of thousands of North Korean artillery are deployed at any given time, prepared to attack targets across South Korea, including in the capital city. Recent reports have indicated hundreds of thousands of people would die just from conventional fire in the first few days of a war.

On top of that North Korea has developed the beginnings of a nuclear arsenal. It’s not entirely clear that the nuclear arsenal’s retaliation standards would be the same as the rest of North Korea’s military, but it still seems a foregone conclusion that any war would quickly go nuclear.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of