“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”
- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
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In hockey, fighting isn’t seen as a way to injure someone, like it would be in "real life". There is a code of sportsmanship in hockey that goes beyond the rules of the game. When that code is broken, players will square off against the offender in defense of themselves or a teammate. For instance, it’s not a penalty to intentionally bump the goaltender after play is whistled dead, but occasionally someone will. This is viewed as especially unsportsmanlike, so one of the goaltender’s teammates will pick a fight with the player who bumped him in order to impress that behavior like that won’t be tolerated, even if there isn’t a rule against it. Essentially, if another player is acting in such a way that is considered unsportsmanlike, he might be challenged to a fight by a member of the opposing team. A player might also choose to fight as a means to motivate his team, especially during high-tension and high-pressure situations, and especially in the playoffs.
The code of sportsmanship also extends to fighting itself. Fights are usually agreed to (sometimes in advance) by players involved, and only occur during play. Except in extenuating circumstances, players will not fight with someone with whom they are mismatched (a 6’3" 225lb player isn’t going to fight a 5’11" 190lb player, unless the 5’11" guy initiates it), and the fight is over when either of the players loses his balance or the officials interfere.
Also, fighting is technically illegal and carries a 5-minute major penalty (5 minutes in the penalty box, team is down 1 skater on the ice unless both players get the same [offsetting] penalty, in which case the teams do not lose a skater), plus additional penalties for instigating (an extra 2 minutes, team is down 1 skater [5-on-4]) and game misconduct (player out rest of the game, team is not down a skater) should the fight occur when it’s not agreeable to both players. Typically, a fight will result in offsetting 5-minute major penalties, the players involved sit in the penalty box for 5 minutes, and the teams carry on 5-on-5 as usual. Worst-case scenario is that one player unscrupulously picks a fight, gets a 5-minute major, a 2-minute instigation penalty, and a game misconduct so he can no longer play in that game, and his team has to send an additional player to the penalty box; the opposing player gets a 2-minute roughing penalty, which offsets the instigator, so play is 5-on-4 for 5 minutes. In the case of the example I gave above, it would likely be offsetting 5-minute majors with no instigator because the refs will view the bump into the goalie as a reason to start a fight.
The Attack and Response:
If NK launches a nuclear weapon, what follows will depend to some extent on who and what they launched it at. It is not believed that NK has the ability to launch a mid-long range nuclear attack. In other words, they can’t hit the US from Asia. Their only viable/realistic target option for a nuclear strike is South Korea.
A nuclear response depends on a state’s second strike capability – their ability to continue a nuclear war after the first salvo. If NK launches a nuke, the probability that their missile facilities will survive long enough to ever launch another one is extremely low. NK knows this, which means two things:
They know they’ll only get one shot. If they are dead set on causing an international nuclear incident, they’ll launch it at Seoul and kill 13 million people off the bat.
They know that a retaliatory nuclear response directed at them is unlikely.
Honestly, it doesn’t make a lot of sense from a strategic standpoint to nuke NK into nothingness, and China / Japan will never stand by and let that happen, to say nothing of South Korea. The ecological consequences make this too costly.
In the event that a US & SK –led coalition take military action in NK, China is going to get extremely antsy. It would require a nuclear attack, or something not far short of one, to get China to begrudgingly allow US military action there. The politics of the situation there will “ensure” a “short” war.
In other words, the campaign will end with the essential destruction of NK and the unconditional surrender of their government. An attempt by the US to occupy NK would be disastrous, but most likely it would be politically unnecessary. In this instance, the US is fighting a defensive war against a lunatic nuclear antagonist. The West will have a grace period of letting the military go in and kill like they’re supposed to before people get upset that we aren’t fixing our enemies houses and schools up nicely after we reduce them to craters. Besides, NK could use the renovations.
South Korea is Screwed:
Regardless of whether or not NK led off with or ever commits a nuclear strike, the war will transition from that point to a conventional war. Bootyuming Seoul is spared a nuclear holocaust, North Korea has 50 years’ worth of artillery aimed at Seoul and SK targets. It doesn’t really matter that they’re cold war technology; they’ll kill a lot of people.