Why Is North Korea Testing Missiles Now?

Connor Simpson
The Atlantic Wire
Why Is North Korea Testing Missiles Now?

North Korea noticed the world stopped paying attention to them, and so, the country fired three short range missiles off the coast to out all eyes on them. Are we about to fall back into the endless stream of provocations and threats that seemed to die down?

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It's too early to make a solid guess about that. But this is what we know. South Korean officials are reporting three short-range KN-02 missiles were fired into the sea Saturday from North Korea. Short range missiles don't travel more than 1,000 kilometers. (Or 620 miles, for the Imperialists.) These ones didn't even make it to Japanese waters.

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Two missiles were launched in the morning while the third came later in the afternoon. The North hasn't released a statement yet so we don't know why, exactly, they're doing this now. The North tends to test short-range missiles every few months. The last tests came in March when tensions were at a high between the international community and the North. It seemed like the tensions in the region that had everyone walking on egg shells earlier in the year had died down. 

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The usual excuses like the U.N. sanctions crippling the country's economy or the joint military drills between South Korea and the U.S. are good guesses, sure. But the most likely reason is that North Korea wanted some more attention from the world. "North Korea is an expert at crisis diplomacy, or crisis marketing," Shin Jong-dae, a professor at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies, told the Wall Street Journal. The U.S. citizen being detained for having an issue of National Geographic (among other things) on his person wasn't getting the job done. 

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North Korea seemed to be retreating a few weeks ago when they withdrew the medium-range Musudan missiles stationed on their coast, potentially pointed towards South Korea or American bases in Guam. It seemed this chapter was finally coming to a close. But today's provocations, while mild, could ratchet up tensions once again.