As we come barreling down to the end of the road on how we confront North Korea, there can be no denying that this situation is very different from other nuclear weapons threats. In fact, the real comparison is to what we face with Iran and the position President Obama put us in with that hostile country. But North Korea is essentially not like any other nation. There are no real economic pressure points with North Korea to use as leverage. The Soviets and the Chinese wanted some kind of integration into the global marketplace; even Iran does.
But the Kim regime has no interest or ability to benefit from global commerce. It is a hermit regime almost completely closed off from other states intentionally for the sake of the regime. It is mostly a criminal thug operation that trades in weapons of mass destruction, aids terrorists, and kidnaps people.
So traditional deterrence and containment have little chance to succeed. North Korea under Kim has no other reason to exist except to be an existential threat to the world with its nuclear weapons. Kim Jong-un is trapped within a system of China’s and his own making with the only real thing that he has to lose are his nuclear weapons, which is the only reason for his existence.