We've all probably gotten used to laughing at North Korea's nuttier antics--whether it's building new airplanes with Photoshop, or stealing clips of American video games for their propaganda films, they do seem to provide an endless amount of crazy. In fact, we've maybe gotten a little too used to it, and in doing so lost sight of something: North Korea is incredibly dangerous.
To understand why North Korea really isn't funny, you need to grasp the extent to which they've geared their entire economy towards war and the development of their military. The Canada National Post has an excellent visualization of what we know about their current military hardware; what the North Koreans lack in modernity they make up for in quantity.
The estimates are pretty stark. Active duty Army personnel number roughly one million, with other services and reserves bringing the total up to 9.5 million troops, each of whom has to undergo three different investigations by three different secret police agencies in order to prove their loyalty before they can enlist. 3,500+ main battle tanks. 500+ light tanks. 2,500 armored personnel carriers. 2,500 multiple rocket launchers. 22 attack submarines. Dozens of patrol boats armed with ship-to-ship missiles capable of one-hit kills. 14,000 shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, and 11,000 towed anti-aircraft guns. 4,400 self propelled artillery pieces. 3,500 towed artillery pieces.
Put in simpler terms, we're talking about a military force roughly two to three times the size of the German Blitzkrieg against western Europe. One armed with nuclear weapons, and lead by a group of people that could charitably be called insane.
The comparison to the Blitzkrieg is not a casual one, because it's invariably noted that North Korea's military is antiquated compared to the US. That doesn't make them not dangerous. It's not a well known fact, but in actuality going into the Battle of France in 1940, the German forces had a significant technological weakness against the Allies. Only 10% of the German military was motorized; much of their logistical support still depended on horse-drawn vehicles. Meanwhile the French alone not only had more tanks overall than the Germans, they had better ones, with thicker armor and better guns. At one fight, a single French "Char B1" tank destroyed thirteen German tanks, being hit over 140 times, without being destroyed. But technical superiority isn't everything; even a much more modern army can be overwhelmed by sheer numbers, something that the North has structured its entire military around.
That is the raw danger of North Korea: yes, they're crazy. And they're also capable of starting a major war. While we might laugh at their missiles exploding on them, and that they desperately need a new writer for their propaganda, but any war with them would likely end up being extremely brutal, even if it was short. They should not be underestimated.