So could there be an all-out war between the two Koreas? Euronews spoke to Jonathan Holstag, an expert on the region at the Free University of Brussels.
He said: “Well, as always, it’s very difficult to discern Pyongyang’s motivations. It might be that Kim Jong-un, the new leader, is showing his muscle and wants to gain support of the military elite, which will be very important to maintain his stronghold, his position of power in the country. But it also might be that it’s still an outcome of the tensions between South Korea and North Korea that have been building up over the last six months or so.
“The North Koreans also understand that the limits of patience of the US, Japan and South Korea have been reached. And they cannot really expect new compromises without making substantial gestures on, for instance, a nuclear programme, but also on their overall security posturing.
“It’s clear that the current President, Mr Lee, is a bit more stubborn and a bit more straight forward than his predecessor. But if you look back to South Korea’s response to the Cheonan incident, then I think it showed that there is still a lot of restraint from the side of South Korea. They also know very well that a showdown and certainly an armed conflict is not in their interests and might lead to very serious regional destabilisation.”