North Korea test-launched four short-range missiles into the waters off its eastern coast today. Experts believe the Scud-type missiles were fired to protest joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises that began on Monday.
North Korea has called the U.S.-South Korea war games a rehearsal for invading North Korea.
"This is just a wake-up call for those who might have thought that North Korea is loosening up", said Lee Jung-Hoon, professor of international relations at Yonsei University in South Korea. "The test-launch of these short-range missiles is a typical North Korean pattern of seemingly coming to the table with good intentions, but then the very next day they engage in some sort of hostile act."
North Korea has recently eased tensions by allowing the reunions of families from North and South Korean that were separated by the Korean War, which ended 60 years ago. But the regime of Kim Jong-un is notorious for its outbursts of belligerence and abrupt increase in hostile actions.
Earlier this month, North Korea sent American missionary Kenneth Bae to a labor camp in part due to the regime’s anger over supposed American B-52 bomber flight drills around the Korean Peninsula.
Last year tensions rose remarkably when North Korea announced that it would restart its shuttered nuclear facilities and then shut down a joint industrial zone operated by North and South Korea.
At times, North Korea's belligerence goes beyond threats. In 2010 it bombed a South Korean island, killing two soldiers, wounding others and setting 60 homes on fire.