North Korea Continues Provocations

Between 6:01 a.m. and 6:23 a.m. on October 6, 2022, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles from the Samsok district in Pyongyang into the sea between Korea and Japan. At around 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon, eight North Korean jets and four bombers crossed the special reconnaissance line near the inter-Korean border and conducted air-to-surface drills.

Q1: What is the significance of these actions?

A1: This is the sixth North Korean missile event in the last 12 days. Tensions are undeniably heightening both in the waters around the Korean peninsula, and now in airspace along the inter-Korean border. The South Korean military scrambled 30 jets in response to the North Korean warplanes. These action-reaction spirals could raise the risk of miscalculation and accidental military altercations.

Q2: Why is North Korea doing this now?

A2: These actions could be a response to the U.S. redeployment of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier to the east coast of the Korean peninsula and the UN Security Council meeting held yesterday to condemn North Korea’s recent missile tests. In its statement, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry condemned the redeployment of the U.S. aircraft carrier, calling it “a serious threat to the stability of the situation on the Korean peninsula and in its vicinity.” These North Korean responses could be part of unannounced training exercises, or they could be for political purposes to attract the attention of the United States, which is focused on the war in Europe.

Q3: How significant are the warplane drills by North Korea?

A3: The public has not seen North Korean warplanes conduct firing drills in quite some time. Kim Jong-un could be following Vladimir Putin’s playbook of coercion when Russian planes entered South Korean airspace earlier this year in May and August .

Q4: What is likely to happen next?

A4: A continued high tempo of North Korean military response is expected. The United States is also expected to also ramp up exercises with allies to enhance extended deterrence. The U.S. aircraft carrier is set to participate in a new joint military exercise with South Korea and Japan starting October 6. North Korea could carry out a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) or an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or the 7th nuclear test.

Victor Cha is senior vice president and holds the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. Ellen Kim is deputy director and senior fellow of the CSIS Korea Chair.

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Victor Cha
Senior Vice President for Asia and Korea Chair
Ellen Kim
Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, Korea Chair