March 30, 2012:
North Koreans were hoping that their new leader, Kim Jong Un, would bring some good news. This has not happened. The government is demanding more sacrifices and more public spectacles. These parades and ceremonies are supposed to improve morale and distract people from their harsh lives. There's now more of these distractions, which are paid for by special taxes collected by local officials going house-to-house. This is very in-your-face and the officials are noting that people are more openly hostile. This is unnerving to the government workers, who have long taken for granted that people were afraid of them. The fear is shifting from the oppressed to the oppressor. The secret police are more corrupt and less scary. The growing legal, and illegal, market economy has put more cash in the hands of more people. With this cash you can buy protection from the secret police and feel less fear. The fear does not disappear. It has found a new home in those who run the North Korean police state.
North Korea has been found participating in the Internet hacker underground, selling items they have stolen. North Korea has been rumored, and then known to have, a hacking capability since the 1990s.
The U.S. told North Korea that food aid will be cancelled if North Korea launches a satellite in April. North Korea insists this launch does not violate the February agreement (where North Korea halts its nuclear weapons and rocket programs in return for 240,000 tons of food and other aid from the U.S.). The Americans disagree.
March 29, 2012: North Korea fired two anti-ship missiles off the west coast in a training exercise. The last time there has been such a test was last December 19.
The Japanese government has ordered its armed forces to shoot down the North Korea rocket to be launched (to put a satellite in orbit) in April if the rocket passes over Japan.
March 28, 2012: North Korea has started fueling the long range rocket it will use to launch a satellite sometime in mid-April.
March 26, 2012: North Korea has moved to the launch pad the long range rocket it will use to launch a satellite sometime in mid-April.
March 20, 2012: A U.S. F-16 crashed in South Korea during a training flight. The pilot escaped. The U.S. stations two F-16 squadrons (20 aircraft each) in South Korea, along with an A-10 squadron. Many more aircraft can be flown in on short notice.