On Saturday, North Korea threatened to open fire at lighting equipment being used by the US and South Korea at a village inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) one day after holding a major dance party in celebration of a successful ballistic missile launch as tensions mount on the Korean Peninsula.
An official statement by the North Korean People’s Army accused the United States and South Korea of initiating "deliberate provocations" by blaring the flood lights in the direction of Pyongyang’s military posts in order to agitate the restless Hermit Kingdom.
North Korea further threatened to smash the United States with “nuclear hammers of justice” in the wake of the successful missile test which was immediately condemned by all members of the UN Security Council including Pyongyang’s long-time benefactor China.
The US-led UN Command in South Korea further accused North Korea of planting land mines in the vicinity of Panmunjom, the village where the truce between the North and South was signed in 1953 suspending direct military hostilities.
The increasingly provocative actions by North Korea do not exist in a vacuum, but instead appear to be responsive to the massive two-week Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) war games that began on Monday with over 50,000 South Korean and 30,000 US soldiers taking part.
Pyongyang calls the wargames a dress rehearsal for a full-scale invasion describing them as "a clear manifestation of a vicious plot to enslave" North Korea. The regime of Kim Jong-un has also felt increasingly vulnerable after US nuclear armed B-2 and B-52 bombers have patrolled the region providing North Korea with the stark reality of the consequences of a misstep.
The US has additionally moved to deploy the full fleet of its nuclear bomber triad – the B-1, B-2, and B-52 – to Guam – in addition to deploying the THAAD anti-missile system to South Korea providing Pyongyang with a limited window to strike against South Korea or the United States or find its nuclear arsenal forever deemed incapable of mounting a successful offensive against the West’s defensive measures.
Kim Jong-un also likely feels the need to present an aggressive posture to maintain domestic support after a top North Korean diplomat defected last week once again raising the specter that the regime of Kim Jong-un may ultimately collapse underneath its own weight.