Setting is modern day Earth. North Korea has been secretly mentally corrupted and assimilated into the collective consciousness of the Chthonic Hivemind. Wishing to manifest itself into Earth for further assimilation, it needs to conduct a ritual that must minimize potential foreign attention.

The hivemind will gradually create (how is not important) adult humans. It will then teleport them to the nation's subterranea. They will live for only 4 minutes before being brutally killed by its North Korean counterpart. The corpses are cut up, grinded and discreetly spread throughout the nation.

The hivemind intends to do this until 444,444,444,444 are killed, fulfilling the conditions for it to directly manifest to Earth.

  • The Chthonic Hivemind isn't kidnapping normal humans around the globe but directly creating entirely new humans. This creation process doesn't happen on Earth and it doesn't rely on Earth for building materials. The created humans are of adult age, completely healthy, and indistinguishable from normal humans.
  • Those new humans are then teleported to North Korea's subterranea where they are swiftly killed after 4 minutes have passed for them. As the created humans are a part of the hivemind, they will not resist and will stay still in their position until their eventual death.
  • After killing, the corpse's arms, legs, head are deliberately chopped off. Afterwards, the remains are grinded into a fine paste with machinery. The remains are surreptitiously transferred to the surface to be planted in the ground 4 inches deep. The intent is for the entire landmass of North Korea to eventually bury all the remains. The remaining bodily fluids are dumped into every body of water within the country.
  • 444,444,444 will appear every 44 hours all at once evenly spread out throughout North Korea.

My question is: Would this process of creating, teleporting, and killing 444 billion adult humans leave a physical impact on the world that could be measurably noted?

I was inspired to ask this question because I once read that Genghis Khan's conquests killed enough people that it reduced the world's carbon emissions. I'm trying to see if something analogous would happen with this ritual.

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    – Monty Wild
    Commented Jun 19 at 10:04

6 Answers 6


This is nearly 63 trillion pounds of meat and bone, even at North Korean weights. Now I'm going to do the entirely half-assed standard-and-metric measurements, which should never be mixed.

If 1 cubic meter of human body weighs 2227 pounds, this is 28 billion cubic meters. A billion cubic meters is 1 cubic kilometer, we have 28 cubic kilometers of human gore here. You can get the solids down to about 9 cubic kilometers if you get rid of the water, but 18 cubic kilometers of water is not insignificant. Where is it going? Supposing Kim's been gifted the technology to grind them all up into paste, that's not his problem... but burying this stuff 4 inches deep with a layer of 4 inches of soil on top is... well, let's do the math.

120,000 square kilometers. With 28 cubic kilometers of ick spread evenly (ignore mountains and rivers and lakes, we're ballparking this). Something like 0.0002 of the cubic kilometer on each, or 1/5th of a meter high, 20cm. That's 8 inches of meat, if evenly spread. This is enough that satellites would know something's off before they were half-finished just from the elevation difference. But they'd also see all the crazy demonic earth-moving equipment burying it everywhere, while underway.

Yeh, this will be noticed, it will be measured. They might or might not be worry about black magic, but if not that, they'll be speculating on some crazy alien technology.

I will let someone else answer on the greenhouse emissions or even just surface biosphere implications of this. Runoff into the rivers should cause massive algae blooms, etc. This could be bad even if they weren't summoning Satan.

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    $\begingroup$ Metric and Imperial??? Blasphemy! Although satellite thermal images showing North Korea glowing from the cooling meat is an interesting idea. +1! $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Jun 17 at 4:38
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    $\begingroup$ People will also be able to just walk up to the Imjin river from the south, which will be covered in bugs, reeking of death, and bright red, take samples, and discover beyond a doubt that North Korea is producing several times its population worth of human blood every few days. $\endgroup$
    – g s
    Commented Jun 17 at 5:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Anketam Please note that my numbers are for all 444 billion, rather than the incrementals. It would only be 8 inches total, I think... but there are satellites that measure elevation with resolution below that for seismological purposes. It would probably appear as some sort of uplifting geological fault. $\endgroup$
    – John O
    Commented Jun 17 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ FWIW, I did a little math on WolframAlpha using these numbers and it appears this mind-boggling amount of human carnage is not sufficient to appreciably change the acceleration of gravity at Earth's surface; so you've got that going for you... $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 17 at 20:14
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    $\begingroup$ I can excuse grinding up 444 billion people, but I draw the line at mixing metric and imperial units. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 18 at 15:13

I can think of a few issues...

  • Your timeline is a whomping five years. That's a very long time for the world's media (e.g., CNN, BBC, etc.) to realize there's no news coming out of North Korea, which is really weird because North Korea has been regularly saber rattling since the end of the Cold War... if not the Korean War. And why is there no news coming out of North Korea?

  • Because every 44 hours seventeen times the population of North Korea suddenly appears and dies. Granted, its subterranean, but you're burying all those people on the surface. 17X the population every two days or so. It be rainin' dead people! So the last news coming out of North Korea will probably be a national cry of fear and despair broadcast on whatever pirate social media channels they can get their hands on.

  • And that's ignoring the typhoon-grade storms caused by the displacement of 27,555,555 cubic meters of air when they're teleported for their brutal demise. Yes, it's underground, but the air needs to go somewhere and the mass of the body isn't disappearing, so the displacement is continual. Best case they're transporting by the second and not all at once every 44 hours, displacing 174 cubic meters of something (air, dirt, something) a second. That's not exactly a typhoon (far from it), but that constant push must be worth something. Maybe air geysers popping up all over North Korea as the mass is pushed around for burial. So I'm still thinking that's gonna cause some havoc with the climate. So say we all.

But that's just the beginning...

Here's the timeline of human decomposition...

  • 24-72 hours after death — the internal organs decompose.

  • 3-5 days after death — the body starts to bloat and blood-containing foam leaks from the mouth and nose.

  • 8-10 days after death — the body turns from green to red as the blood decomposes and the organs in the abdomen accumulate gas.

  • Several weeks after death — nails and teeth fall out.

  • 1 month after death — the body starts to liquefy. (Source)

And that assumes you have a complete body to work with. You're helping things along tremendously by chopping everything up. What does that tell me?...

  • In just a couple of days 444 million bodies will start poisoning the ground, reducing food output.

  • In less than a month all those accumulated bodies (we're up to 7.27 billion bodies... nearly the entire population of Earth today) begin poisoning water sources, notably aquifers.

  • And not too long after that ocean life around North Korea begins to die as the whomping one meter of average rainfall (combined with the lakes, rivers, and aquifers) begin to wash the offal into the sea. This is a big deal because there's a fair amount of international fishing in North Korean waters.

And then there's the stink!

  • Seven billion people per month for five years... It would STINK! We're talking a stink you could smell clear over in San Fransisco. You can thank the prevailing westerlies for that little gift.

  • But before San Fransisco smelled anything, you might have to deal with all the refugees in the area. South Korea, a big chunk of southern China, and Japan would all be fleeing the smell in a mass exodus.

  • And then there's the disease. The world hasn't seen a pandemic of tuberculosis for a long time (among other nasties...), but this little situation would do it! We're talking flight 513 kinds of stuff!

So while I'm thinking that someone might not realize there's a problem in the first few days... Maybe... I think we're stretching suspension of disbelief to suggest that any longer than day #4 (one billion dead...) people would start to think the four horsemen of the apocalypse had shown up.

And they wouldn't be entirely wrong...

So I'm thinking it would take very little time at all to realize something Really Bad was happening in North Korea. Some things sociological (e.g. the breakdown in national communications) and some things geological or climatological (e.g., dead oceans). If there's any delay in realizing the nature of the problem, it might be because some of the more deeply religious folks blaming the issue on the Wages of Sin while everyone else laughs about what they're saying at dinner parties. But that would only buy you a day or two.

Of course the Chthonic Hivemind would likely be entirely satisfied with all of this.

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    $\begingroup$ @T.E.D. If you read the question more carefully, you'll discover the Chthonic Hivemind is creating the humans that, four minutes later, are brutally killed. The Earth's population is not the source of the dead bodies. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Jun 18 at 23:11
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe, just maybe, we should have a cloder look at those stinky balloons that North Korea sends south nowadays ... $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 19 at 15:17

Massive regional die-off

The Lake Nyos disaster is one of the creepiest natural disasters I've ever heard of. The disaster was a limnic eruption:

A limnic eruption, also known as a lake overturn, is a very rare type of natural disaster in which dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) suddenly erupts from deep lake waters, forming a gas cloud capable of asphyxiating wildlife, livestock, and humans.

This will be kind of like that.

In your case, the source of carbon dioxide is the 444 million victims who appear every two days and then draw breath for 4 minutes before dying. As a point of comparison, 444 million is ~1/3 larger than the entire population of the United States, and ~15 times larger than the population of North Korea. These victims appear beneath NorKo, transform breathable atmosphere into CO2 for several minutes, then die.

How much CO2 is that?

A relaxed, healthy adult male exhales 250 milliliters of CO2 per minute, according to Dr. John G. Mohler, medical director of the pulmonary physiology laboratory at the University of Southern California School of Medicine (quoted in the New York Times). Four minutes would be 1 liter, making for 444 million liters of CO2 exhaled per wave of victims. My dimensional analysis is pretty rusty these days, but I believe this is a lot less than Lake Nyos (300,000 tons), but neither is it the proverbial fart in the wind.

It would be a gargantuan task to build a ventilation system robust enough to service a subterranean space that can hold 444 million people. I doubt it could be done. Probably the first wave of victims would begin to suffocate before their 4 minutes was up, and the atmosphere down there would just grow more depleted as successive waves materialize and gasp their way to death faster than the cavern can exchange air with the surface.

Pretend they solve that problem: now all that CO2 is being pumped out of the cavern, to the surface of NorKo, while it sucks fresh atmosphere down, away from the surface and human residents of NorKo.

CO2 is heavier than regular atmosphere, so this cloud of deadly, drained air will spread along the ground, suffocating animals and people near the exhaust points, expanding outward as it mixes with nearby atmosphere. Yes, atmospheric turbulence will help to replenish the oxygen, but it's not a magically efficient system, and we're talking about a lot of CO2. And that CO2 doesn't vanish, it moves to nearby areas.

Each wave of victims will trigger something like a (weak?) limnic eruption. Each eruption will drain more of the surrounding atmosphere. Two days is plenty of time to replenish, but then it hits again with the same force with the next wave.

I have a hunch this will result in the suffocation of most people and animals in North Korea, plus whatever regions are consistently down-wind while this is going on.

I do expect the rest of the world to notice when people and animals in that part of the world start dying, especially since it would extend beyond the borders of North Korea.

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    $\begingroup$ Wouldn't the four minutes worth of exhaled CO2 gasses pale in comparison to the gasses released by the decomposing body paste of 444,444,444,444 people? $\endgroup$
    – komodosp
    Commented Jun 17 at 9:24
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    $\begingroup$ @komodosp it certainly would, over time - the question is how fast decomposition happens and releases gasses. For the first 4 minutes, the breathing definitely is the bigger part. After that I don't know how fast meat decomposes and releases gasses - every 44 hours we get another load of breathing gasses, followed by another deposit of meat that can start rotting... but over the course of the 5 years that this process takes, I think you'd be right - if nothing drastic happens before then, all that rot will become more significant at SOME point. $\endgroup$
    – Syndic
    Commented Jun 17 at 12:16
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    $\begingroup$ Human body deposition is going to be an issue within days, and you have a LOT of them. $\endgroup$
    – Nelson
    Commented Jun 17 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ 444e6 l/V_m×((12+2×16)g/mol) to t (Qalculate) = 860 t CO2 $\endgroup$
    – Arsenal
    Commented Jun 17 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Arsenal - That assumes 100% conversion of carbon atoms to carbon dioxide during decay. The problem is that not only is carbon dioxide not the only greenhouse gas produced during decay—methane is another, for instance—but some carbon will also be captured by bacteria and some will react with minerals in the soil to form inorganic carbon-containing compounds. $\endgroup$
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Jun 19 at 5:35

In the short term, there are certainly noticeable effects, like water/air pollution, local agricultural and ecosystem disruption, maybe local diseases and refugees. But perhaps sadly, probably not that much inevitable or direct consequences in the long run (except for the alien invasion part).

Sure, methane production can be an issue if the flesh is left to rot like a normal corpse, but spread into the ground as a constant supply of nutrients, earthworms and other decomposers will thrive to handle a large part of it. Other elements in the human body like phosphorus and sulfur may cause local overabundance of algae, insects etc, but as the created humans are completely healthy and free of pathogens to begin with, diseases aren't likely to evolve to be more dangerous/resistant in the ground flesh where they don't have to fight with human immune systems and antibiotics. Of course, locals are still not going to like it even if they could survive there at all.

Long term impact is another story. Reusing the estimate of 63 trillion pounds of meat from another answer, that's approximately 28.6*10^12 kg or 28.6 gigatonnes. Carbon is about 18.5% of the human body by mass, that's 5.3 gigatonnes of carbon.

According to Wikipedia: Each part per million of CO2 in the atmosphere represents approximately 2.13 gigatonnes of carbon, or 7.82 gigatonnes of CO2. As of March 2024, the monthly average concentration of CO2 reached a new record high of 425.22 parts per million (ppm), marking an increase of 4.7 ppm over March 2023. By the latest measurement, levels had further escalated to 427.48 ppm.

That means if all the carbon from the bodies were turned into CO2, it would only represent about 2.5ppm increase of CO2, much less than the increase that already happened during March 2023-2024.

  • $\begingroup$ Very interesting figures if correct. I'd have expected way more CO2 and methane to boot. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 20 at 17:28

Frame Challenge: North Korea has neither the manpower nor the industrial infrastructure to actually do this

North Korea has a total population of about 26 million people. Statistically speaking, about 10.5 million of those people will be too old, weak, or small to be physically capable of performing a "manual labor" job of this nature. Because this process will take over 3 years to complete, it means you also can not suspend agriculture while you are doing it. At North Korea's level of industrialization, they need to maintain about 25% of thier total population in agriculture just to not starve off long before the job is done.

That leaves about 7 million able bodied people if you suspend every other industry... but if you do that, their whole power infrastructure and economy will collapse, and they won't have any machines left to run thier farms or thier meat grinders; so, again, everyone starves, and the mission fails.

That said, there is something very unique about North Korea that tells us just how much of thier population they can spare. North Korea exists on the brink of severe poverty and economic ruin because they devote a very large fraction of thier able bodied population to military service: about 6.1% of thier total population. Any more than this much of thier able bodied population dedicated to non-productive services is bound to cause the whole nation to collapse and lots of people to die of starvation; so, the best we can assume North Korea can do is reallocate the whole military to this operation, and continue devote the whole rest of the population to just barely supporting it. That gives you about 1.6 million people that North Korea can actually dedicate to this purpose if you want the mission to be sustainable until it is done.

Now here is the real problem: Each "worker" needs to be able to hunt down, kill, dismember, pulverize, and bury 151.5 people every day. North Korea is not a very industrialized nation; so, there will not be nearly enough wood chippers and excavators to go around; so, most of the pulverisation and burying will have to be done with hand tools. Mincing a human body with a knife and hammer will would take hours of work, and even at a depth of 4 inches, digging big enough of a hole to bury a body with a shovel will take several more hours. And since these victims are spawning all over the place, just finding them will be an additional major cost of time. Realistically, a rate of about 0.5 to 2 sacrifices per worker per day is probably the most you can do.

Now, lucky for your world, Chthonic beings probably don't understand human limitations well enough to realize this plan is so flawed: They probably think, "Humans have wood chippers and excavators, there are 26 million of them, yes they should be able to do 6 bodies a day each."; so, when it possesses this nation to try to summon itself he will not be able to get the humans to meet their quotas, and probably just work them all to death within the first week or two trying. For this plan to work, your Chthonic being would probably have to possess all of Asia, not just North Korea.


Lots of good answers so far.
My favorite would be: The effects of adding significant mass to just one place on Earth

The hivemind [will kill] 444,444,444,444 [adult humans]

At 140 pounds each, that's 62,222,222,222,160 pounds added to the outer crust of the earth. Converting this to mass gives 28,282,828,282.8 kg. (why I picked 140 lbs - six twenty-eights make a cool number!)

Since we are already 'hand waving' on a few things (teleportation) I will assume that the incoming mass is teleporting in with the momentum it would already have if it existed here.
The alternative is that the new humans appear with no momentum, and then the wall of the underground cavern slams into the bodies at almost a thousand miles/hour (Korea's approximate speed around the Earth).
This violates your "kill them 4 minutes later" requirement above, causes the earth to slow its rotation, and causes associated seismic anomaly created by the impact.

Second: It won't mess up the Earth's orbit.
An orbit is independent of the mass of the rotating object. Earth's orbit is not independent of the mass of the Sun, so you can't launch those bodies into the Sun to dispose of them without changing the orbits of all the planets (eventually).

Third: It will change the ocean tides.
The Earth's mass will increase by this percent: (2.8×10^10 + 6×10^24) / 6×10^24, a rather small percentage. However, placing all of the additional weight in one spot would skew the ocean tides, and likely create a detectable seismic result of some sort. There are lots of people who watch seismic activity very closely often for military reasons (what is N Korea doing?).

Also, as stated above (2nd point) it will affect the Moon's orbit, which is more responsibly for the tides than the earth's distribution of mass. I'm unclear how to know when this would be noticed, but there is a mirror on the moon that even regular people can use to measure the moon's current distance from the earth (there's a Big Bang tv episode that shows the characters doing that).

My question is: Would this process of creating, teleporting, and killing 444 billion adult humans leave a physical impact on the world that could be measurably noted?

Yes, for the above stated reasons in a five year period. (+ other answers already given)

I don't have an figures but, I suspect that this would be noticed and located in less than 2 years.

However, this may not be an issue. You specified N Korea... which has government rather tight control of its media and its population - which provides you with latitude in your story line.

Discovery doesn't mean it would be stopped, or even seriously addressed by another nation state.

Put something like this in your story - you're covered:

"Well that is interesting. Is there some a scientific development that I'm not aware of? Are you actually saying that North Korea has developed teleportation? Have you spent to much time on Worldbuilding SE lately Mr/Ms Scientist?"


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