|The North Koreans are obviously more frisky/desperate than they have been in decades. The Kim succession is in early stages, and nothing rallies people around the flag like crisis.
Lets say the NorKors launch a shore-based anti-ship missile NEAR or OVER US surface forces. What are the likely rules of engagement? The commander only has a few seconds to decide whether to engage the missile or not. Can he afford to assume it is a bluff?
Lets assume he cannot and then engages the missile, successfully. Is that it? No harm, no foul - other than more gum-flapping.
Lets assume the NorKors actually launch what appears to be a direct attack with a single surface-surface missile. Would the US have the cajones to fire back at the shore-based launcher?
Now for real fun, let's assume the North Koreans actually damage a US warship and kill sailors. What then? Do we sink one of their ships? We're playing with Seoul here - US hard-asses would say bomb them further back into the stone age but the South Koreans have the most to lose by escalating. Actually the North, specifically the Kims do too, but while the smoke is still rising what would we do?