If North Korea developed nuclear fusion, and had essentially unlimited energy, how could it leverage this advantage into world domination? How long would it have to be kept secret, and how could the invention itself make this secrecy easier?

EDIT: I'm assuming that the fusion would use deuterium from ocean water as fuel, thus a virtually unlimited supply. If I'm wrong about that please let me know this is actually implausible, which is an acceptable answer.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm torn between it being an interesting problem, and having no particular interest in providing NK with online documents describing how to conquer the world! =p $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Dec 28 '15 at 18:55
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    $\begingroup$ Nuclear fusion is nothing new. Fusion reactors however are a pretty big deal. Tokamaks are small (relatively) such reactors which are used primarily for research purposes as they consume more power than they produce. Germany is building the biggest stellarator ever attempted, and if successful it will be a game changer in energy generation. But this tech is very tricky to build even for Germany, let alone for a backward country like NK. Frankly, if they had one of these it would only be because the rest of the world was already on to bigger, better energy sources. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Dec 28 '15 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ I guess we would steal it and laugh at them. Every country spies on every other country. $\endgroup$ – BlueWizard Dec 29 '15 at 21:32
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    $\begingroup$ How long would it have to be kept secret — the time for someone to notice that NK is not black spot between China and SK at night anymore. $\endgroup$ – user28434 Aug 29 '17 at 9:48
  • $\begingroup$ @user28434: NK is not a "black spot" because it doesn't have energy, potentially at least. (Lots of hydropower potential, for one.) The current government can only stay in power by keeping the bulk of the population poor and ignorant. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Aug 29 '17 at 17:55

It would be next to impossible for them to keep it secret.

When North Korea developed its nuclear weaponry program, it asked for assistance from the Soviet Union and China. Both nations refused. Even with regards to peaceful nuclear energy, it needed assistance and training help from other nations.

The nature of North Korea precludes significant technological advancement on the scale of the rest of the world. You're correct in stating that you'd need deuterium, and for that you need processing heavy water plants. And for that, you need training.

They have to train scientists to master the art of nuclear fusion.

They not only have to beat everyone else to nuclear fusion, but they'd need to train people on processes like the Girdler sulfide process and manufacturing of the heavy water plant itself. It's no secret why someone would want a heavy water plant, and it's easy to see from space. That in itself would be a red flag to anyone who was on the lookout.

If they had to keep it hidden, they'd need to train/hire architects, designers, construction crews, and anyone with the skills to do the necessary excavations to hide it from satellites.

If they did all of this, and managed to hide nuclear fusion reactors and heavy water plants, and hired and trained only North Koreans or at least foreigners sworn to secrecy (or forced into slavery) all they have is energy. They have to utilise that energy. It would be an extremely slow process to keep everything hidden and also master the utilisation of that energy.

By the time they got anywhere, everyone else would already have gained the technology to counter any sort of headway that North Korea has made.

  • $\begingroup$ But they could always hide it in the ghost city they built near the border to make it look like they were all busily working. Nobody would ever expect that city actually had anything in it! $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Dec 28 '15 at 20:00

Unfortunately (for your idea), world domination requires a lot more than one massive breakthrough. Best Korea lacks industrial and economic base to properly leverage that kind of advantage.

However, if we are allowed a lot of handwaving, there may be a way.

Assumption: chemical synthesis can be reduced to a problem of applying enough energy to break or reform bonds at will.

  • Result, step 1: Best Korea overnight takes over entire drug market. I deliberately used word "drugs", they can synthesise any and all medicine or narcotics at negligible cost, and with doses used in medication, doesn't require huge initial industrial base. Use this to win over world population with ludicrously cheap medicine, at the same time winning over addicts with ludicrously cheap narcotics. Any government trying to shut down Saviour Korea would suddenly face huge resistance from own population, possibly even riots.
  • Step 2: You can chemically break down waste and use the very same atoms to produce food. If in step one you charged a little instead of dispensing drugs for free, you have hard cash to build infrastructure that ends world hunger - all those who had nothing to lose are on your side, if Kim-land goes under, they are back to dying of starvation. Import all kind of waste for more positive publicity and rare earth metals as happy by-product of the process. No sane politician would commit political suicide and attack Saint Korea.
  • Step 3: Use cash and political influence to catch up in other technologies.
  • Step 4: Before anyone else invents fusion energy, build army strong enough to rule the world with iron fist.
  • Step 5: Take over the world, topple governments, declare yourself Sun of Earth.
  • Step 6, optional: revoke cheap drugs and food.

At the beginning of Step 1, and unsaid Step 0 (building reactors) they are the most vulnerable, not only they would have to undertake huge construction and science projects (or lure in a lot of scientists) without tipping their hand early, but one of the points of "Intellectual Property" laws is preventing unauthorised production of proprietary medicine, no matter what are the expenses in human lives or "years lost" (years that person would live with proper medication). In other words, there are mechanisms intended to protect profits at the expense of citizens, and those measures would have to be circumvented until Step 1 reaches enough popularity to be impossible to stop. Leveraging inherent communism-capitalism antagonism and "People's" in "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is worth a lot of points for style, if you ask me.

There may be other ways, requiring different amount of hand-waving, I can't think of any right now.

  • $\begingroup$ If anyone has to decide between buying cheap drugs from NK to pacify their rioting citizens or going for a visit via boat (or battleship for that matter), I know what would happen. If anyone finds out NK has this technology, then there will be a party that takes this tech (by trade or force). $\endgroup$ – JFBM Dec 28 '15 at 22:07

It's probably the worst thing they could invent.

Firstly, the commercial value of the technology to the worlds superpowers cannot be underestimated. Fusion will replace the oil industry, and countries go to war over oil all the time.

North Korea won't be able to keep its discovery a secret, not if they try to benefit from it in any meaningful way. And as soon as it's known that they have it, they will be invaded and destroyed, and the tech will be stolen. Doesn't matter if they have nukes or not, having a city nuked is a small price to pay for obtaining working, commercial-grade fusion tech.

North Koreas only hope to survive inventing this tech would be to swiftly exchange it, in return for lifting of the economic sanctions on it, and hope for a better relationship with whichever superpower gets it. Of course, that superpower, in holding a unique advantage over everyone else, will immediately come under incredible pressure (ie, open warfare, probably full-on nuclear holocaust). You've seen what happens in the end of the Iron Sky movie, right? Highly likely, I think.


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