Here’s a look at North Korean bluster, and cases where it’s believed to have made good on threats, though in most of those cases it has denied carrying out attacks.
2015: Landmines and loudspeakers
Kim Jong Un issued an ultimatum that seemed to bring the Koreas very close to war in August 2015. Tensions had escalated rapidly after land mines injured two South Korean soldiers along the Demilitarized Zone. The confrontation deepened as the South demanded an apology and re-started propaganda broadcasts over loudspeakers near the DMZ. It was defused at the last minute by a lot of long talks.
2014: The Sony hack
The US claims North Korea carried out a massive hack in 2014 to get revenge against Sony Entertainment for distributing The Interview, a black comedy that ended with graphic images of Kim Jong-un being enveloped in a fiery explosion. Pyongyang had warned it would attack before the movie’s release, threatening attacks on the White House and other targets in the United States. It has denied responsibility for the hack, but praised the hackers.
2013: A threat on Guam over B-52 bombers
In an escalation of threats in March 2013 similar to what is going on now, North Korea warned that Guam was within striking range of its missiles. The threat came as the United States announced a plan to send B-52 bombers over South Korea for military exercises with Seoul. The threat was considered serious and missile interceptors were deployed, but in the end nothing happened.
2010: Island shelling
On November 23, 2010, the North hammered the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, firing off 170 shells and rockets that hit military and civilian targets and killed four South Koreans. The North claimed the incident was triggered by South Korean artillery drills and the South’s shooting into the North’s territorial waters. It occurred as tensions were unusually high - that same day, the US and South Korea began annual, large-scale military exercises.
2010: Sinking of the Cheonan
On March 26, 2010, the South Korean war ship Cheonan sank in the Yellow Sea after being hit by what is believed to have been a torpedo. Forty-six South Korean sailors died. North Korea said it was not to blame and denied findings of an international panel. But many saw it as possible retaliation for a clash with the South several months earlier off the west coast of the Korean Peninsula that left two North Koreans dead.
2002: The Axis of Evil
North Korea reacted to President George W. Bush’s claim that it was part of an “Axis of Evil” by issuing a warning through its Foreign Ministry that the US isn’t the only country that can attack its adversaries and said it would “mercilessly wipe out the aggressors.” So far, it hasn’t.