... so serious that the Chinese have been prepared to reverse their longstanding policy of shunning the new Japanese prime Minister's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, because of his regular visits to the Yasukuni shrine, even though the new man, Shinzo Abe has declined to 'make clear' whether he has already visited or will visit the same shrine himself.
That's how serious it is. I first became 'majorly' alarmed about the potential danger that North Korea represents to us all in late 1993 when I still lived in that part of the world, when former President Clinton was having his own difficulties in getting the North Korean regime to behave in accordance with its agreements. More recently in January 2003 I wrote about some of the difficulties of managing relationships with that country (scroll down to second entry) and whilst some aspects of that post read rather strangely now, those parts that touch on North Korea remain as frighteningly valid as ever.
UPDATE: (Monday 9OCT06 09.40 BST) North Korea claims it carried out a nuclear test earlier today, an event seemingly confirmed by a 'seismic event' identified by South Korean and US intelligence services.