Now go outside and look at the sky.
The Unknown Country
If you think that the western public didn't know much about Iraq, compare that to our knowledge of North Korea: Zero. Nada. North Korea could as well be located on one of Jupiter's outer moons.
While doing some comparative architectural studies (ok, I was surfing skyscrapers.com) I stumbled over the fact that a 105 story hotel was built in Pyongyang. As if there are ever more than a hundred tourists in that country!
Well, they didn't actually complete that building. As it turned out, by the time the construction of the concrete structure was reaching the 105th floor, they were running out of money. Oh, and the concrete started crumbling.
It's easy to make fun of this fact, but it is intriguing to guess (and that's all we can ever do) what drove the North Korean leadership to such lengths. I mean, those are the same people who are now threatening their neighbours and the US with a nuclear war on an almost daily basis.
We have to assume that these are people who will, even against all odds, go through with whatever insane plan has formed in their minds. They don't just posture. When they thought that a 105-story concrete hulk in the middle of their capital is what makes the world a better place, they broke the bank, went all-out bust, probably killed a few workers in the process and let the surrounding countryside starve.
Assuming that they have nuclear weapons, we'll have to be really, really careful talking to these people.
There is very few (good) content on the web about North Korea, but PBS has done a great job with Kim's Nuclear Gamble.