North Korea has certainly been showcasing their nuclear capabilities and fearless rhetoric over the past few weeks, but there a few things you must understand about the country before you start to panic.
For all the howling that North Korea does about the US "devil imperialists" and their "puppet regime" in South Korea, the North routinely relies on aid and other assistance from the US and South Korea. The US, along with reluctant ally China, supplies the impoverished regime with food, oil and other fuel sources. South Korea provides money and food as well. If the US and the South were to cut the belligerent nation off, they'd be almost entirely reliant on China and Russia and even those ties are becoming more and more strained.
2. North Korea regularly overplays their hand
While the North might have beaten their southern foes in the space race by a mere month, they like to parade their other achievements as unparalleled in the region. Aside from the fact that previous nuclear tests and missile launches have all failed miserably, they still cling to the fact that they can essentially get the international community to bend in their direction when it comes to sanctions and aid. Their luck appears to be turning as even China has signed on to the latest round of UN sanctions.
3. North Korea is nothing without China
North Korea exists only because China allowed them to. China saved them during the Korean War and has continually provided them the material and political cover necessary for them to continue getting by. Even when North Korea attacked the South Korean naval vessel killing nearly 50 sailors, China blocked UN sanctions. It seems that those days are over as Kim Jong-il is long gone and the previous kinship that former Chinese Premier Hu Jintao felt to the North has not been carried on my current Premier Wen Jiabao .
If North Korea does go ahead with their seemingly imminent nuclear test, they might find themselves in a very lonely and barren world that has finally had enough of their antics.