A series of North Korean moves in late February and early March of 2003 appeared to send a signal to the incoming South Korean president and test US resolve in the region.
On Feb. 24, 2003, North Korea fired a single missile into the sea between South Korea and Japan, a day before South Korea swore in President Roh Moo-hyun. "The move seemed carefully calibrated to draw attention without being highly provocative – a flashing signal rather than a red light," The New York Times then reported. "In its last missile test, in 1998, North Korea launched a missile that flew over Japanese territory, setting off a crisis between the countries."
A week later, on March 2, four North Korean jets intercepted an unarmed US reconnaissance plane in international airspace over the Sea of Japan. The jets shadowed the plane for 22 minutes. On March 10, North Korea fired a second missile into the sea between South Korea and Japan in as many weeks.