As you've seen on the news, the North Korean administration is getting itself lots of attention in the Western world. Threat of war looms over us, and Trump acts as a catalyst, returning verbal fire and increasing UN sanctions on the country. But threats are one thing, total war is another. So how likely is that to happen?
Let's take a look at the reasoning behind the West. North Korea is Communist, and played an important role in the Cold War and Korean War. This leads to a natural bitterness from NATO. Additionally, it is a militaristic nation, which is renowned for its instability and its possession of ballistic missiles. Considering its proximity to Japan, South Korea, and Guam, this is worrying to them and their allies, such as the US. North Korea also is known to have violated many human rights, which gives support of humanitarians to suppress the nation.
Now from the perspective of NK, or specifically Kim Jong-Un, a resentment towards the West is understandable considering their influence in the Korean War and the embargos they put in place, which slows development for the solitary nation. Also, now in possession of Nuclear Warheads, Kim Jong-Un has us right where he wants us—he has the capability to inflict tremendous damage to cities like Tokyo or Seoul, where the death tolls would be immense. NATO knows that if they declare war, the enemy would be able to obliterate a city, which is too heavy of a loss. If he was to disarm his nuclear arms, it would leave him vulnerable, much like Colonel Gaddafi of Libya.
In fact, this chain of events is remarkably similar to that of Gaddafi and Libya in 2010. An unpredictable ruler of a nation with enough firepower to deal great harm to bordering countries. They are also similar in the way they both attracted as much attention in the media as possible, to spread fear and awareness of their might. Except, Gaddafi agreed to disarm his "nuclear bombs" (he didn't actually have any, but made people believe he did), which allowed NATO to attack with little repercussions; something Kim Jong-Un foresees.
How is China involved? China borders the north side of North Korea. It has some trade between the countries, a bond forged through the Cold War when Communist countries had to support each other. NK is dependent on supplies from China—the main one being oil—and without it, NK would soon demilitarise, which leads us to the question: Why doesn't China just cut off the supply of oil? Truth be told, China likes having North Korea separated from South Korea. A unified Korea would threaten China's exports by producing better made goods. Also, if a unified Korea were to have United States influence, China would be looking at the US military on their doorstep. So now you know why China defends the interests of NK.
Some people suggest the idea of assassination, but that is far-fetched and extremely dangerous. Firstly, getting an agent into the country is next to impossible, nevermind getting them out. On top of this, Kim Jong-Un's sister, Kim Yo-Jong, would take his place, and is just as unpredictable.
So, in light of this, how likely is war? From an unbiased perspective, not very. What is meant by "war" is the firing of a single warhead from NK, which could level the centre of a city, followed by utter bombardment of warheads from NATO and the destruction of the country. Meaning, war is in nobody's best interests, and NK frankly have too much to lose.
Thanks for reading, and remember to take everything with a pinch of salt—the future can't be told, only predicted.