Let's be honest. Fear sells. If you see some article claiming we are on the cusp of war with North Korea, it grabs your attention. This is serious business. Especially now that the NorKos have a missile with the range to hit anywhere in North America.
Buried in the bottom of the story, the writer may mention that North Korea has some "technical issues" to solve before they can truly threaten the cities of The United States. That's one of those handy half-truths. The real story is less glamorous and more dangerous.
First, the good news. North Korean (DPRK) has not demonstrated the ability to launch a missile accurately. Even with a nuclear warhead, accuracy matters. Traveling thousands of miles at high speed, a small trajectory error means instead of hitting Los Angeles, the warhead splashes in the Pacific or maybe the Salton Sea. Also, getting a warhead shielded and hardened is very difficult. Without proper missile construction, the warhead will probably fail due to the stress of launch or extreme heat upon re-entry. Finally, the DPRK does not have silos. Every time they prep an ICBM to launch, it's above ground and our spy sats see it all. We can be ready.
Now the good / bad news. We have interceptor missiles. The Ageis ship based interceptors are reliable, but only during the short "boost phase". That means local commanders only have a few minutes to get authorization and execute. Our land based "GMD" system has been tested, and each of those interceptors has an average kill rate of 50%. Launching four of those at a NorKo ICBM means a probable kill of over 90%. Not bad (?!)
(Drum roll) Now, the bad news! Y'all familiar with an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)? If Norko decides to use that weapon, they bypass their current weakness. An EMP weapon is detonated above a population center, in orbit. Accuracy is really not as much of an issue, as the idea is to blanket a region with a particle wave that will permanently kill all electronics. The warhead never re-enters the atmosphere, so it does not need to be shock and heat protected. In other words, they have the technology to do this right now.
If you think a space-burst EMP is less destructive than a ground burst nuke, you are wrong. Dead wrong. If Los Angeles was instantly deprived of the ability to distribute food, water, fuel and medicine, what would that look like?
So, if you choose to be frightened, be frightened for the right reasons.