We will know when the intelligence agencies think the North Korean situation is deadly serious, when Seoul is evacuated. They are the hostages the North holds. It would take a week to evacuate that major city, and disrupt the South’s economy. 

That would be a major move, not undertaken lightly because it might even entice a North attack fearful that they no longer hold a hostage.

There is some media debate about no obvious US DEFCON preparation , but no visible preparation is necessary. A single FBM Submarine in the Pacific can completely obliterate North Korea.  Their missiles are preprogrammed and ready for flight in seconds.

Unfortunately, the North has used hostile rhetoric for decades, and one day a US president will take their words seriously, but generally speaking it is just rhetoric for public consumption of the North Korean military.

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