This Simulation Proves How Deadly a Real War With North Korea Would Be

This Simulation Proves How Deadly a Real War With North Korea Would Be

Kyle Mizokami

Security, Asia

Image: Reuters.

A terrible idea.

Key Point: Even if North Korea didn’t strike first, such a conflict would still kill millions if nuclear weapons were used. Another war would destroy many lives and much treasure.

I bought a wargame called Next War: Korea, and I’m playing it right now. It cost me $80, and I believe it’s going to offer me some meaningful insight into how a real war in Korea might play out.

The Korean peninsula is, acre for acre, one of the most heavily militarized places on earth. I expect casualties will be heavy, just as they would be in a real showdown between North and South Korea and their respective allies.

Next War: Korea plays out on a sprawling poster-sized map of the Korean peninsula, modeling all major towns and cities, lakes, rivers, fortifications, ports, airfields and the DMZ. Ground and air units on both sides are represented by cardboard counters, with NATO-style unit symbols and their attack, defense and movement abilities abstracted into raw numbers. The objective of the main scenario is for the North to invade and occupy South Korea — or at least a significant portion of it.Loading Ad

Seven days into the war, the death and destruction on both sides is a sobering reminder of what happens when large armies go to total war.

Game theory

People have been killing each other in games for thousands of years. Combat simulations are so common that we don’t even think of the simplest ones, like checkers and chess, as being war-related at all. They’re just games, their martial past lost to history.

Wargames have taken on an entirely new dimension since World War II. They’ve grown more sophisticated, with intricate rule sets and encyclopedic amounts of information being pumped into increasingly sophisticated simulations. The goal has been a more scientific understanding of war in an age when nuclear weapons have made avoiding all-out warfare a matter of human survival.

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