Despite Media Hype, No ‘Surprise’ From North Korea

US spy planes deploy over North Korea

US media outlets spent well over a week hyping up a “Christmas gift” from North Korea to the point that it was considered a foregone conclusion that they were going to do something provocative.

Those reports got to such a frenzy that the US military was talked into taking direct action, sending four surveillance planes over the Korean Peninsula. This was described by sources as an unusual action, and a “response” to the putative threat.

From North Korea’s perspective, however, these additional planes in the air look an awful lot like provocation. Instead of North Korea provoking anything, it was ultimately the US risking the calm on the peninsula.

The lesson here would be to not overreact to speculation that North Korea might do something, which was based on off-hand comments in state media. Optimally, the US would not preemptively react to things that may or may not happen with risky operations of their own.

Despite never happening, the expectation of North Korean action was so great that media outlets are still referring to it as the “North Korean threat” days after nothing happened, seemingly unable to accept that there was no missile launch or anything else.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of