B.R Myers responds to this blogpost here.
In what is being touted the worst provocation on the Korean peninsula since the Korean War Armistice, the North Korean military have shelled Yeonpyeong Island including civilian areas.
Why have they done this?
Here are three possible theories (edited with updates and links):
a) The one I favour is an extrapolation of B.R Myers' idea that the North Korean regime can only retain legitimacy if its future ruler Kim Jong Un is given some military credentials to go with his rank of four-star general. If this is the case, then confirmation could come with some praise of the military action under his name. In which case, watch this space. Myers himself hasn't ventured a motive yet.
b) Andrei Lankov appears to believe this is an attempt to gain attention from the US. Others think it is an attempt to extort more food aid from South Korea given that it doesn't have enough to last the winter. This also seems like a reasonable possibility to me.
c) Selig Harrison seems to be going with his default belief that there are hardliners at work trying to scupper the recent brief thaw between the two Koreas:
The armed forces hawks don't like what they are seeing, and what they have done is a classic ploy in situations like this to stir things up and undermine the doves
And which doves is he referring to? Kim Jong-il?
According to this New York Times article, Lee Sung-yoon, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, disagrees with Harrison and instead agrees with me!
“There is no ‘rogue elements’ theory applicable here,” Mr. Lee said. “This is how North Korea approaches negotiations — not through the conventions of diplomatic courtesy but through raising the stakes through provocations. It’s been a potent formula, this provocation-negotiation-concession schema.”
Mr. Lee and other North Korea analysts said the clash on Tuesday was likely intended to bolster the political standing and military credentials of the son. The North would likely claim, he said, that “this is how the young general showed his mettle.”
We'll just have to wait and see...
Of course, I also expect that some conspiraloon is going to wheel out the tired and tested holler of "false flag!" as if the North's sinking of the Cheonan (or previous "false flag" according to the same loons) wasn't enough of a cassus belli.
Update: Two civilians were also among the dead.