That's one explanation for Day 3 of provocation from North Korea, which again fired short-range missiles or rockets into the ocean. So far, the medium-range North Korea missiles that caused a flap in April are nowhere to be seen.
A group of Chinese fishermen are said to be held hostage in North Korea, straining ties already frayed by North Korea's missile launches.
Mr. Bae was detained and sentenced to 15 years in prison. North Korea today spelled out its charges, which include plotting to overthrow the government.
US basketball star Dennis Rodman recently hung out with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un - now he's tweeted a request that the American sentenced to 15 years' hard labor be released.
As President Obama meets today with South Korea's President Park Geun-hye, how closely they agree on policy toward North Korea and whether they establish a good working relationship will be key to dealing with an increasingly dangerous new leadership in Pyongyang.
As history shows, new nuclear states such as North Korea usually probe the limits of their power and test how other international actors respond. But consider this: Once escalation starts, it can be extremely difficult to control.