The United States isn’t “scared” of North Korea. The United States, like Japan, South Korea, and honestly, China, is concerned that the leadership of North Korea is so unstable and erratic that without warning it may do something extremely dangerous, with ramifications that no one wants to contemplate.
Economically North Korea is a basket case. It is led by a young , impulsive, insecure thug, who derives his authority merely from being the son of the former autocrat — who derived his authority from his father’s dictatorship and his legend as a “revolutionary hero”. The regime is sustained domestically through terror and internationally through the threat to its neighbors posed its large military. It holds South Korea — and by implication, the US — hostage to its irrationality by the deployment of hundreds of artillery pieces and rockets within range of Seoul. It maintains a nuclear program with no clear objective other than, as revealed by its propaganda, as a tool to incinerate its enemies, most notably (even if impossibly), the US. But because of that artillery threatening Seoul, they are somewhat immune to any preemptive military s