Alexander Vorontsov, a scholar who holds several teaching and research posts, including head of the Korean and Mongolian studies department at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Moscow-based Russian Academy of Sciences, visited the country in mid-November and met with Foreign Ministry officials and diplomats.
"The diplomats told Vorontsov in November, "'it would be suicidal to attack the U.S. first and especially with nuclear weapons. "We understand that it would be the last day of our country", the unnamed diplomat said, in Vorontsov's words.
North Koreans are also genuinely anxious the United States could launch a preventive war on the peninsula.
"By conducting different military actions, one of the objectives that the USA might have is to drive a wedge between political leaders and military leaders inside North Korea", he added.
He said: "These officials were truly baffled that a majority of the South Korean population does not seem to have grasped the reality that the Trump administration, despite the risks, is inching ever closer to a preventive strike on North Korea".
"In my conversations in Pyongyang, senior North Korean foreign ministry officials did not hide their surprise that Seoul failed to see the huge gap in threat perceptions between American and South Korean societies", Vorontsov stated.
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Amid a global furore over his reported remarks about "shithole countries" and immigration, Donald Trump faced further controversy on Friday when it was reported that he referred to an intelligence analyst presenting information to him in the Oval Office as a "pretty Korean lady" and suggested she should be part of negotiations with North Korea.
"'We are diplomats, not military guys".
Mr Vorontsov said: "These were sobering discussions".
In-Bum Chun, a retired South Korean general and former deputy commander of the First Republic of Korea Army, warns that North Korea's soldiers are so brainwashed that any conflict would turn into a fight to the death.
"In order to destroy an important part of North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes, you have to really undertake a major war against North Korea nearly".