ad banner

A North Korea Primer for Preppers: How to Prepare for Conflict

Avatar for Jodie Weston Jodie Weston  |  Updated: September 10, 2020
A North Korea Primer for Preppers: How to Prepare for Conflict

This site contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Full Disclosure Here.

Can Kim Jong-Un hit America, and if he can, will he?

Most sources suggest that he probably can’t and probably won’t. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to prep for.

Let’s talk about what kind of effects the North Korean dictator could actually have on our lives here in America. We’ll list the scenarios in order of likeliness and tell you exactly how you can prepare for them.

What are the threats?

The hysteria resulting from Kim Jong-Un’s threats is the first thing to be prepared for. Moments of high tension can make even seasoned preppers worry, never mind the un-prepped masses.

Those who are not usually in tune with potential disaster scenarios have certainly read all of the news on North Korea, and no doubt those who sell bunkers and iodine pills have seen a spike in sales. But running around and buying gear isn’t a great idea.

We’ll get to what you should do instead, but, first, is there anything behind this panic?

According to the Washington Post, North Korea tested three missiles this year, each demonstrating a different range capability. All of the missiles landed in the sea of Japan because they were shot high into the atmosphere intentionally.

At a more reasonable projection of 500 miles into the air, the first of these three strikes could potentially reach Guam. The second shot higher, and could have been targeted at Anchorage, Alaska. The third, tested on July 28th, could have gotten in land as far as Chicago.

These missiles did not have a nuclear payload. They are designed to carry nuclear weapons, but no one is certain if North Korea has the technology to miniaturized a nuclear weapon to get it onto a missile.

It was once thought they certainly did not, but in 2013, the New York Times reported that the Defence Intelligence Agency was “moderately confident” North Korea had miniaturized nuclear weapons, but that their “reliability will be low.” At the time, South Korean officials expressed doubt that North Korea had progressed that far.

Unless things change in the next few years, North Korea will probably develop the capability to hit closer and closer to the continental US. That has been the dictator’s stated goal. Whether or not he will remains another question.

Most of the threats Kim Jong-Un has issued have come from the state controlled media, which isn’t just directed at the world, but is also directed at the North Korean people themselves. To get a taste of how controlled, you can check out the KNCA aggregator.

North Korean Propoganda

Consider this closing line from a recent article: “The DPRK will as ever foil the U.S. sanctions strategy by dint of self-reliance and self-development and dash ahead like the wind at the speed of Mallima to build a socialist power.

In this article, and in the KNCA in general, the desperate and dark reality that North Koreans face is never acknowledged. Far from being self-reliant, the country is literally starving, and receives a great deal of food aid from the UN, and, in 2017 from the Obama Administration, according to VOA News. The nation even has labour camps with gruesome conditions and unusual punishments.

So, could the threats made on North Korean media be just another bold lie the dictator expects his people to swallow, or face the consequences, like a public execution?

On the other hand, if the threat isn’t empty, isn’t the North Korean dictator aware that he would be ensuring his own death if he attacked the United States?

Well, the North Korean dictatorship began with Kim Jong-Un’s grandfather. As the third generation of an all-powerful family, Kim Jong-Un had an indulgent childhood. He spent time being educated in Switzerland, and, according to a report from the Washington Post, his classmates revealed he had delusions of grandeur and was prone to violence. He has also been more controlling and despotic than his father was.

No one can be sure of the man’s true thoughts, but it’s possible he is just not as logical and clear-headed as to understand what repercussions he would face if he used a nuclear weapon.

1. Mass hysteria

If there are further threats from North Korea, and further tests, especially if those tests are beyond the Sea of Japan, people may panic, even here in the United States. Generally, when the un-prepared think a disaster is coming they rush out to the store and buy up canned goods, generators, guns and ammunition, and other emergency type items.

The best response to panic you can have is:

  1. Stay in your home or workplace
  2. Put off buying any prepper supplies until the panic has gone down (as they’ll be in short supply and costly)
  3. Call anyone you’re close to who you think might be panicking and educate them

Of course, you’ll also get plenty of people on the internet buying into the hysteria and demanding information on how to survive the attack they believe is imminent. I have to admit, it’s rather annoying to have people waltz into my favorite internet niches, or worse, my front door, looking to prepare for nuclear war when they couldn’t survive a three-day power outage.

While it’s understandable that these people are often met with some sarcasm, I would encourage you to re-think the harsh response you might be planning on delivering to them.

After all, many people become preppers after learning of major catastrophes that, while unlikely, could very well happen. We should take this opportunity to bring the unwashed masses into our fold.

Explain to them that a basic level of preparedness for more mundane events is the best place to start. To keep them from being overwhelmed, and to get them on the right track, send them Gaye’s 20 step guide for beginner preppers and how to choose which prepper skills to learn first.

Once your budding prepper is properly prepared for more likely events, then you two can talk about how to get ready if a nuclear war breaks out.

2. Economic Recession in Asia-Pacific

North Korea has had the capability to hit its immediate neighbors for some time. These countries are a much more likely target than the United States, but they have advanced defense systems.

Asia Pacific Region

Ultimately, its unlikely North Korea could land a hit on anyone, but if you live in South Korea, Japan, or even China (a place Kim Jon-Un would only attack if he truly lost his mind), and are worried about a strike from North Korea, we’ll address what you need to do in under “Nuclear Strike.” But, remember an attack from North Korea is much more likely to be artillery or chemical-based than nuclear.

For Americans and other preppers who don’t live nearby North Korea, the effect of Kim Jong-Un attacking his neighbors will mostly result from economics. The cost of the main exports from the region will go up, and the availability of their exports might be strained.

Largely, this means electronics, vehicles, computers and electrical machinery from the affected regions will be in short supply. There are other world suppliers of these products, and they can be made domestically, but their cost will go up. This isn’t so much a survival concern for Americans, as it is a cost concern.

3. War in Asia-Pacific

Of course, there would be another consequence for the dictatorship if they aggressed against their neighbors. They would immediately be at war with those they attacked. South Korea and Japan would likely defend each other against their mutual threat, and, as their ally, the United States would provide support.

Though most Americans are okay with putting ground troops in North Korea, that would most likely not be necessary. South Korea and Japan are very prepared for war with North Korea and easily outclass the dictatorship in military prowess.

We would likely offer support from the many navy vessels we have in the area, over offering any ground support. That’s not to say such a conflict wouldn’t be devastating, as Harry J Kazianis, from Fox News says, “And yes, Washington and Seoul would be able to destroy the clear majority of Kim’s army quickly, but the devastation left in its wake could be catastrophic.

On the other hand, this tragedy and devastation would be unlikely to directly impact anyone living in the United States. Unless you or your loved ones are in the military, you’ll be perfectly safe.

In the event of a war between the Koreas, I would be preparing my charitable donations, not my stockroom.

4. Nuclear Strike

If any (non-military) people see a North Korean nuclear strike coming, it will be the educated folks from 38 North, a news site specifically about North Korea, run by John Hopkins. It’s telling that one of their latest articles is about how Kim Jong-Un just backed away from his nuclear threat.

The next time there is fluster over North Korea, you should go check that site to see how serious the issue actually is. That being said, let’s delve into how to prepare for a North Korean nuclear strike.

If you’re in South Korea, there are bomb shelters for you to use, in the case of any kind of military action from Kim Jong-Un. Unless you have your own bomb shelter, make sure you know where the closest one is. Have a paper map of your area, with a bunker and back-up bunker marked, in your bug-out-bag.

According to Reuters, many of these shelters are under-stocked, lacking and serious supply of water, food, or medicine. You’ll want to bring along as much of these essentials as you can, so have them packed into a bug-out-bag to save time.

On the other hand, if you live in or near a concrete building, especially multi-story buildings, bugging in may be a better option. If you’re in an apartment building, make a deal with some neighbours to migrate to the centre apartments, they are the most protected. If not, the basement in any multi-level concrete building is best.

Check out the graphic from Business Insider to visually see why. You can continue to use your larger home stockpile of food and water, and taking shelter deep in concrete will protect you from a great deal of radiation. It may be better than risking the safety concerns being with a panicked mob in a bomb shelter– that has no supplies to boot.

Of course, none of this prep will matter if you’re in the direct blast zone of a nuclear attack, then you’ll be flattened. The lack of technological prowess in North Korea doesn’t all work in our favor. It’s unlikely the nation can properly target their missiles, which means even if you think your little town isn’t a likely target, it may still be hit.

Again, this is much more a threat to our Japanese and South Korean readers than Americans, and more a worry for Americans in Guam and Hawaii than on the continent, but it could still happen to all of us.

After North Korea released its threat against Guam, Homeland Security released a pamphlet on how to prepare for a nuclear strike, and what to do during and after.


  1. Make an emergency supplies kit
  2. Make an emergency family plan
  3. Make a list of concrete shelters near your home

The family plan is a way to collect members of your family from different areas. Under most circumstances involving a nuclear attack, you won’t have time to pick up your kids from school or your grandparents on the other side of town.

So, why suggest making a plan at all? I don’t know, Homeland Security has it on their sheet. Perhaps they expect you to use it in other scenarios.

As for the emergency supplies kit, it should be a bug-out bag you can bring with you in case you need to head to another shelter (which is also why you have the list of multiple places), here’s what it should have in it:

  • First aid kit, at least two weeks supply of any medicine a family member regularly takes
  • Paper map (and perhaps brush up on your navigation skills)
  • Pepper spray, as defense
  • Iodine pills
  • A small supply of water, try to make it a week’s worth (FEMA says you need a gallon per person of water per day, likely you won’t be able to carry that much, so you may need a very thorough water filter)
  • A small supply of food, try to make it a week’s worth
  • Dust mask per person (N95 preferably)
  • Change of clothes per person, which should be warmer clothes if you’re in a cold climate
  • Important documents, in a water-proof container

Here’s a guide for a basic all purpose bug-out-bag which you may also want to consider. You should store the bug-out-bag in the safest place in your home, which is hopefully below ground and surrounded by concrete.

The concrete absorbs radiation, keeping as much from you as possible. If you can stock this shelter beforehand, include everything in the emergency supply kit, along with:

  • A bin or 5-gallon bucket to contain waste, plastic bags, toilet paper, wood shavings to reduce smell, and sanitary napkins to help keep things clean. Whatever feminine products the ladies in your family use (if you’re not one of them, ask first).
  • More than two week’s worth of food (that does not need to be cooked), for every person and pet you’ll allow in. Dishes, utensils, and cups to eat with.
  • More than two week’s worth of water, for every person and pet you’ll allow in.
  • A battery powered radio and/or hand-crank radio.
  • Battery powered light source, or candles and matches. Also, a fire extinguisher.
  • Small tool kit, just for turning off utilities.
  • First aid kit, including iodine pills (They protect only your thyroid, and only from one kind of radiation, but they are better than nothing. Do not take more than one dose, you can technically over-dose on it. More information here.)
  • Entertainment to keep morale high, like a deck of cards, books, board-games, battery-powered electronics, and lots of paper and pencils.
  • A change of clothes per person. A pillow for each person, and a few blankets.


  • If there is a forewarning of the attack, turn on television/radio and listen to instructions.
  • Take cover as fast as possible, and expect to stay there for, at a bare minimum, 24 hours.
  • If staying in your home, and an attack is not imminent, but only potential, tape plastic sheets over your windows and doors, to reduce how much radiation will leak into your home. If you do not have time, do not bother with this step, just get to cover.

If you are caught outside during the attack:

  • Do not look at the flash, get behind anything, lay flat on the ground, cover your head.
  • Once the shock-wave has passed, head to shelter.
  • Take off your clothes and, if possible, tie them in a plastic bag and put it as far away from you and others as possible.
  • Wash your entire body gently with soap and water, and do not scrub. Your skin will be very fragile.
  • If you cannot access a shower, gently wipe your body with a wet cloth. Do not neglect your eyelids, eyelashes, or ears. Gently blow your nose. Do not use conditioner, it binds to radiation.


  • Stay inside, and listen for official information from authorities about when to emerge. The radiation will significantly lose its potency over the next few days, so the longer you can remain sheltered, generally, the better. After two weeks, the radiation will be one percent as potent as it was just after the blast.
  • Stay away from areas marked “hazard” or “radiation.”

The three basic factors in protecting yourself from radiation are shielding, distance and time.

The more concrete, or shielding, between you and the blast the better. The further you are from the blast, the better off you’ll be. In particular, you don’t want to be downwind of the blast.

And, as I mention, after time, the radiation will fade. Gaye has published a guide on limiting your radiation exposure, you can find it here.

Final Thoughts

Overall, a Nuclear attack from North Korea, specifically, is highly unlikely.

But, unlikely events have been known to occur from time to time, that’s one of the reasons we prepare, is it not? And, once you have prepared for average events, I think it makes sense to step up your game and prepare for a nuclear strike, from any country.

While we hope that Nuclear weapons are never, ever used, the last thing you want is to be unprepared for such a cataclysmic event. And, don’t let your loved ones and close friends get away with thinking that a nuclear attack would be so devastating they couldn’t survive it.

As long as you’re not in the immediate blast area, you can survive nuclear fallout if you’re educated about it, have appropriate shelter, and have enough supplies on hand to wait it out.

If you enjoyed this article, consider following our Facebook page.

Aff | Emergency Survival Blanket

[DEAL] Emergency Survival Blanket

Pocket-size survival blanket could save a life - throw in your bag or car.

Get Cheap Security
Aff | Emergency Blanket
[DEAL] Emergency Survival Blanket Get Cheap Security

8 Responses to “A North Korea Primer for Preppers: How to Prepare for Conflict”

  1. While I’m beginning to believe that NK is just blustering to get a better bargaining position at the table, there is another nuclear option they have which is even scarier then a nuclear bomb going off in a US city…


    North Korea has already proven they can put satellites in orbit. If they loft one with a nuclear bomb in it with a timer to detonate when it’s over the continental US, it’s lights out for any devices that rely on electricity that aren’t heavily shielded. No cellphones, no electric lights, no refrigeration, no city water after a few days, the list goes on. That’s my nightmare scenario for a NK conflict.

    There are a bunch of articles here at backdoorsurvival covering EMP, so I won’t go into detail other than to say a EMP attack on the US would truly be TEOTWAWKI and not merely SHTF.

  2. Instead of storing water as FEMA advises, better to get a gravity-powered water filtration unit like an Alexapure Pro.

  3. This past week my inbox has been filled with fear-mongering emails inducing a panic reaction to both Hurricane Harvey in Texas and that crazy man running the show in North Korea. It is refreshing to read a well-thought out and informative article about what to do relative to the later. As the founder of this site, I am encouraged to see you continue to post common sense tactics for dealing with this crazy mixed up world.

    Keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply