• Leaked Pentagon training footage shows possible U.S. response to the Kim's "gift"
  • South Korea set up special forces unit to "decapitate" North's  leadership in 2017
  • Visible U.S. military activity could have forced Kim Jong-un to hold back on threat

Christmas has come and gone, with no sign of the "gift" that North Korea had promised for the United States. But what is now becoming known is that the Pentagon was playing mind games with North koran dictator Kim Jon-un, teasing what he could expect if he threatens the security of the U.S. and its allies, and heaping pressure on him.

In a not-so-subtle message to the North, U.S. and South Korean forces were seen practicing drills that were euphimistically termed "terrorist hostage situations." The footage of the drills showed people being captured and led away with their hands and feet bounded. According to a report by the Washington Post, the footage was leaked by the Pentagon presumably on purpose as a way of warning Kim Jong-un that he and his country's leadership weren't safe if they threatened U.S. security.

In 2017, when tensions were running high in the Korean peninsula, reports had said the South had made provisions to train a special forces unit that will "decapitate" the North's leadership. Perhaps this training video shows that program had been active behind the scenes, and that the Pentagon was part of the plan.

Sergeant Brian Johnson with the 501st Military Intelligence Brigade at Camp Humphreys in South Korea told the International Business Times that a combination of the U.S. and South Korean forces would be capable of doing just about anything they set their minds to. "Remember the Pentagon doesn't like to leak photographs of anything that they can't back up; they don't like to look bad," he pointed out.

It was earlier reported that the U.S. miltiary had stepped up air reconnaissance around the Korean peninsula, flying an unprecedented four spy planes over it as the world waited for Kim's promised Christmas gift.

War is not something that either side really wants to see, despite all the rhetoric and saber-rattling. Still, there comes the point where provocation leads to action or loss of face on the world stage. This is where the North currently finds itself, a proud-yet-economically crippled country with leaders spewing outdated rhetoric.

US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un talk before a meeting in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019, in Panmunjom, Korea
US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un talk before a meeting in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019, in Panmunjom, Korea AFP / Brendan Smialowski

The North has an impressive number of active-duty soldiers (950,000) and a reserve force of 7.6 million. The U.S. has around 23,000 troops in the area, and the South Koreans have about 559,000 active-duty troops and approximately 3.2 million reservists.

The North also has a growing missile program that is working toward becoming nuclear-capable, especially with help from Russia and China, in addition to an impressive array of old-fashioned yet very deadly military equipment.

But the reality is that they may not have enough ammunition to more than test the technology. The country has been been so heavily sanctioned that it almost seems like it is running out of air. Technologically there is no way that the North can fight the South and the United States and survive.

That would explain why, other than a few tests and a plenty of rhetoric, there is no appetite for a real military conflict. And the Pentagon's mind games could explain the delayed "gift."