A South Korean think tank has predicted that the North Korean economy will suffer a serious blow next year as a result of the global sanctions and pressure on the regime.
Despite expected economic difficulties, it remains to be seen whether North Korea will reverse its position clinging to nuclear weapons development, according to the think tank.
"The key part of a ground invasion would be the effort to seize North Korea's nuclear assets", Fitzpatrick said.
Meanwhile, the institute predicted the North will refrain from conducting additional provocations at least until the beginning of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
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Other comparisons issued by Statistics Korea also put the South far ahead.
It was the North's fastest expansion for 17 years as Pyongyang quietly allows the market to play a greater role in its economy under Kim Jong-Un, even while denying it is carrying out reforms.
As part of on-going purging efforts, Hwang Pyong-so, previously chief of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army, has been steeply demoted and is now working at a government department, but he retained membership with the ruling party, while Kim Won-hong, formerly deputy chief at the military bureau, is working at a farm without any possibility of reinstatement, according to the think tank. North Korean Premier Park Pong-ju could be possibly one of the targets, it said.
The national spy agency earlier said the two ranking military officials were punished for "impure" acts.
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