After decades of empty threats, much of the world tunes out when North Korea vows to unleash destruction on its enemies. But in the past few months, some prominent analysts began warning that Kim Jong Un may actually be serious about preparing for war.

Now in his 13th year running North Korea, Kim is more aggressively testing the boundaries of what his adversaries will tolerate. Backed by rapid progress in his nation’s nuclear capabilities and missile program, the 40-year-old dictator began 2024 by removing the goal of peaceful unification from North Korea’s constitution and declaring he had the right to "annihilate” South Korea.

While such bellicose rhetoric would normally be dismissed — Kim could just be posturing ahead of South Korean elections on April 10 — two prominent analysts set off a round of discussion among North Korea watchers with an article suggesting that this time Kim isn’t bluffing.