I believe that the Norks will do something stupid, not necessarily nuke related but something that will push the US over the edge and I believe we will then see 200-300 Tomahawks flying to Pyongyang.
In order to stop it degenerating into another revisit of 1950, the head of the snake would need to be crushed in 1 mighty blow but if it missed taking out all of the Norks headshed there would be hell to pay.
The loss of many lifes is inevitable if the US goes to war with North Korea. The primary concern is minimizing collateral damage given the possibilities and limiations. However a trigger happy North Korea on full alert and awareness is the greatest threat. For those reasons this is one of the few cases where I would suggest and promote a well measured pre-emptive strike and subsequent liberation. The Russians and Chinese have to keep completly out of the initial intervention phase - not deploy means to try to intercept or manipulate US missiles and guidance systems as they tried in Syria. Kim and the very least his most loyal subjects from military staff ( probably about half a dozen people ) along with communication, radars etc need to be taken out first, swiftly and with absolute precision. If US intelligence is uncertain about it they should take out as many high ranking officials as feasible unless they are ready to switch sides. All North Korean launch sites have to be wiped off the map, all facilities and bunkers holding nuclear, chemical ( imminent threat to Seoul )/ biological weapons have to be erased and as many TELs destroyed as possible - in the very first wave of guided missile and bomber attacks. To prevent massive damage to Seoul by conventional NK artillery as means of retaliation the second wave should be dealing with that problem and at least damage or destroy anything that is known of or detected by satellites. Seoul will still suffer some damage, probably even more than expected but at least the overall damage potential would be minimized. First phase of the intervention must be very very quick and very very precice. This is the only way I can imagine, without the massive loss of lifes and use of nuclear weapons.
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