then a detour back to hypervelocity kinetic warheads
I think you're more likely to get widespread railgun use first rather than directed energy weapons, considering there are working, saleable prototypes right now: www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uV1SbEuzFU
Not very concerned about North Korea, their current behaviour is consistent with past practices. Sure, the reason it works is because of their unpredictability and the potential stakes, but I think that's more an appearance than reality. Nothing that changes the current balance could possibly be beneficial for the NK elite, but grandstanding and then backing off when attempts at placation are made will result in reward. Also, I'm so happy I have a contemporaneous evil dictator to grow old with ("Come around kids, and I'll tell you about when Kim Jong-un used to be young and.... anyway he was pretty young").