As Allied forces begin to roll up the gains made by North Korean forces, the retreat becomes faster and faster. This is deceptive, however; North Korean generals are aware that they have overexposed themselves but, rather than speak of a tactical withdrawal, they talk of sprinting a trap on the imperialists. By withdrawing, DPRK forces are restrengthening, once again playing to their hand.
Retaking Seoul and crossing the DMZ represents a tough task for the advancing forces; the city is held by fanatical troops and the military leadership is key to keep hold, as it represents a major bargaining chip in any potential peace settlement (as well as tangible proof of the success of their venture). The reclamation of Seoul is expected to be a 21st century Stalingrad. Crossing the DMZ is also expected to be tough; the huge amount of North Korean artillery will make the approach difficult. Although many HARTs were hit during the initial DPRK advance through allied counter-strikes, the hardened bunkers and technique of only bringing the pieces out to fire means many are still intact. This, combined with the painfully slow project of clearing the mines beyond the DMZ, means allied casualties are set to be high.
As allied soldiers approach, the worst fears turn out to be true. Casualties are heavily mitigated, however, by a pause before the crossing. This allows the more worn-out divisions to be replaced, and for huge US reinforcements to arrive. The crossing is also timed to coincide with Marine divisions arriving at Wonsan; a huge landing, reminiscent of the Inchon Landing, is staged, but this time, in the east of the peninsula, supported by the US carrier fleet and by Japanese divisions. There is stiff resistance, but with a heavy naval and aerial bombardment on the forces nearby, the defenders are heavily softened up. However, DPRK troops are being raced back from Gangneung; They soon hit the Southern flank of these forces, and a bitter battle begins. The disorganisation of the North Korean forces, however, sees them pushed back and a beachhead established quickly. The city is taken and immediately becomes a funnel for more troops landing from Japanese bases. Donald Trump, speaking in front of airborne troops ready to embark from Guam, declares that ‘All hell can’t stop us now.’
As the marine landing begins to make ground, troops also begin to push across the border, dragging DPRK forces across their own territory. Recognising the progress in Seoul will be slow, allied leaders decide that despite the threat to their rear from the North Korean forces in the city, they must rush on ahead to Pyongyang, certain that it’s capture is key to the collapse of North Korea. Allied forces thus begin their assault onto North Korean territory and the beginning of a long, slow, bloody march towards Pyongyang.
The assault on Seoul begins; progress is positively glacial. North Korean forces use a baffling and bizarre array of IEDs and defensive techniques. Several times, scores of troops are lost when whole buildings are rigged with explosives to collapse on top of them. DPRK techniques also focus on making Seoul an infantry battle; major roads are simply destroyed, making them impassable. DPRK tanks are dug in, to buildings or inside rubble barricades, in order to protect their weak armour; these are often traps, too.
There is no strategic withdrawal for North Korea now. Troops are instructed to hold every piece of ground as allied formations advance from both South and East. The threat to the North Korean leadership is closer than these frontiers, however, as bomber fleets begin a 24/7 carpet bombing above the city. Knowing that Kim Jong has likely several strong rooms to which he can withdraw, a quick flurry of missiles hits government and military buildings, as well as suspected strong sites. Then the bombing begins, a near 24/7 campaign designed to crush the morale of the leadership and make their exposed position brutally clear.
China has stayed remarkably quiet on the issue, torn between support for a satellite state and the fact that North Korea was the clear cut aggressor; however, with the war turning against Pyongyang, Xi Jinping makes a statement. He declares that Kim must step down in order to secure North Korea’s future free from American interference, and that China is prepared to step in as an arbiter. Journalists believe this means that China is prepared to offer Kim Jong Un asylum, in a similar vein to Ronald Reagan’s offer to Ferdinand Marcos. This would allow for regime change in the nation, without sacrificing a Chinese ally. Russia is concerned about a possible imbalance of power, particularly around Vladivostock – it therefore seeks to redress this by using purported military manoeuvres in Belarus to strengthen its position on the border, whilst also reigniting both the Abkhaz-Georgian and the Georgian-Ossetian ‘frozen’ conflicts.
Allied forces are now swarming from the east towards Pyongyang, and have managed to cut off Seoul’s defenders by advancing through the DMZ and taking Kaesong. Seoul’s defenders are again bombarded by propaganda, this time informing them of their position and again offering them new lives. Not only are leaflets dropped, huge sound systems are used to blast defenders with propaganda. Many take this opportunity to flee, but many are simply too well-drilled or fanatical to believe this. The siege continues, in ever decreasing pockets, almost to the end of the war.
Faced with ever decreasing possibilities, Pyongyang warns that, should the allies attempt to take Pyongyang itself, or to remove Kim-Jong Un, it will unleash ‘a wave of destruction that will turn the world into a raging inferno,’ utilising weapons ‘for which you have no preparation.’ This is immediately recognised as a direct threat to utilise chemical and possibly nuclear weapons in order to preserve the regime. In a press conference held by all three allied leaders, Shinzo Abe warns that this ‘would mark the end for North Korea,’ whilst Donald Trump informs the watching masses that ‘that won’t happen. Any launch is gonna face huge, huge retaliation. We’ve got subs just sitting off the coast, they’re ready to go, let me tell you.’ This is indeed true; a further US statement reveals that the Los Angeles class submarines that left Guam are currently off the west of the Korean Peninsula, ready to respond to any attacks with counter-launches designed to level Pyongyang and the launching sites. There is not even a pause in the manoeuvre warfare machine currently carving its way towards Pyongyang.
With the city almost flattened, its only ally refusing to rush to its defence and huge bombs, designed to penetrate bunkers, falling on more and more safe sites, the North Korean leadership is faced with a blasphemous choice. In hushed voices in concrete corridors, many express the notion that if Kim-Jong Un can be removed, there may be a chance to save the DPRK itself. For a nation with a personality cult as strong as North Korea’s, this amounts to the unthinkable. An attempt is made by a General to remove him, but this underground coup is stopped. Convinced now that allied spies have infiltrated even his top leadership positions, Kim makes the fateful decision to launch what chemical weapons he has.
Allied forces are prepared, having been equipped with gas masks and given ample training. Yet the effects are still devastating, resulting in the deaths of thousands. The use of this weapon — which most nations have disavowed — makes it clear to military leadership that Kim is likely to be prepared to utilise nuclear weapons as they advance closer to Pyongyang. Considering this to be a more real threat than the possibility of a Soviet-style ‘Dead Man’s Trigger’, Donald Trump is given the decision of whether to first-strike, or to react to Kim’s actions. Unsure of the quantity, quality or destination of DPRK missiles, he decides to launch a small nuclear barrage.
The warhead leaves little of Pyongyang — or its former leadership. The remaining DPRK forces, still huge in number, are informed of the action through constant propaganda bombardment. Allied forces stop conducting offensive operations, and the war seems to grind to a halt. The nation begins to swarm with allied personnel, though now they consist of medical and humanitarian teams as well as troops. Chinese military authorities, keen to prevent an American ally on its border, also head southwards through the border. Some 50 kilometers of the north of North Korea is essentially annexed by these forces. Those areas occupied by the allies are simply subsumed into the Republic of Korea; there is, however, a further challenge; those citizens of North Korea have been so heavily indoctrinated that it will be generations before they are fully able to integrate into society.