Sometimes—like when they call themselves "space conquerors" after launching a satellite that broke almost immediately and tumbled out of orbit—it can be hard to take North Korea seriously. Other times—like when they threaten another test of their nuclear program at a highly delicate time for their neighbors, politically—it seems wiser to keep a close eye on them.

Then they go ahead and call the United States their "archenemy," and we're back to wondering if their state-run media is having Google Translate-related problems again. "Archenemy," seriously? Like there's any doubt who would win if actual military hostilities broke out between our two countries. Beyond that, North Korea has two much closer, much more direct rivals: South Korea and Japan.

Kim Jong-un, the young autocrat in charge of the destitute Communist country, may just be throwing a tantrum in an attempt to flex whatever geopolitical muscle he thinks he has. The announcement of the nuclear test, as well as a stated desire to develop missiles capable of hitting the continental U.S., comes in response to an expansion of United Nations sanctions against North Korea. That expansion was itself a response to the North's December launch of the failed satellite.

Here's a glance at their official statement:

We do not hide that a variety of satellites and long-range rockets which will be launched by [North Korea] one after another and a nuclear test of higher level which will be carried out by it in the upcoming all-out action, a new phase of the anti-U.S. struggle that has lasted century after century, will target against the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people. Settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words, as it regards jungle law as the rule of its survival.

While North Korea has blustered like this numerous times before, the fact is that they have successfully tested nuclear weapons twice already, in 2006 and 2009. A third test now would come at a time when both South Korea and Japan are undergoing transfers of power and China, North Korea's only major ally, had strongly urged against launching the satellite in the first place and then supported the increase in U.N. sanctions.

Dealing with North Korea is a diplomatic nightmare, but it's good once in a while to remind ourselves just how desperate the country is. Take a look at this image of the two Koreas at night: the South is lit up with life and vitality; the North looks like it fell into the sea, much like its dead satellite fell from the sky.

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