"We've never been in a situation where a nuclear-armed country has had to make that kind of call," mused Hardy. "If the leadership is going down like the Third Reich, this kind of last gasp action is possible," added Pinkston.
Were the regime in Pyongyang overthrown by war, the positives would be extensive. South Korea would gain a land connection to the Eurasian continent; a strategic casus belli would evaporate; northern Korea could be rebuilt and its people ushered into the global community; and Northeast Asia could advance toward regional integration.
But given the destructiveness of modern weaponry and the dense populations of both Koreas, experts pray "Korean War II" never happens.
"The casualties in a short time would be unlike anything we have seen before: hundreds of thousands in days, millions in weeks," said Pinkston. "The fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria would pale in comparison."