Seoul, South Korea CNN  — 

Since the turn of the year, North Korea has ramped up missile tests in defiance of international law at a frenetic pace that many who keep a close eye on the rogue state expect to continue.

According to analysts, seven North Korean missile tests in the first four weeks of 2022 suggest the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, is both striving to meet domestic goals and show an increasingly turbulent world that Pyongyang remains a player in the struggle for power and influence.

“By threatening to destabilize Asia while global resources are stretched thin elsewhere, Pyongyang is demanding the world pay it to act like a ‘responsible nuclear power,’” said Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea.

Those seven missile tests have run the gamut, from what is believed to be a hypersonic glide vehicle – potentially one of the most powerful weapons on the planet to an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM), Pyongyang’s longest range missile tested since 2017 – to cruise missiles, arms that powers like the US have had in their inventory for decades.

North Korea says it test-fired an intermediate missile, the Hwasong-12, on Sunday, January 30 (local time).

But all fall into Kim’s pledge to make North Korea a power that can stand up to not only to its southern neighbor, but also to foes further afield, such as the United States. The IRBM that was tested Sunday, named in state media as a Hwasong-12 type missile, could have the range to hit the US island territory of Guam in the Pacific Ocean. Images released by North Korean state media, purportedly taken using a camera installed on the Hwasong-12, appear to show the missile in space looking back down at Earth.

Kim has reason to be concerned about a possible government change in Seoul in March’s presidential election. Conservatives behind presidential candidate Yoon Suk Yeol have a chance to unseat the current ruling democrats, fronted by Lee Jae-myung, who would succeed party colleague President Moon Jae-in if elected.

Analysts say a Yoon-led government could be expected to take a much harder line against the North compared to one led by Lee.

Yoon even planted the idea that South Korea could strike first against a perceived threat from the North, before the South might suffer a catastrophic loss.

“I think it is a very important attitude for us to have,” Yoon said last week.

And while Moon has held summits with Kim, a Yoon government could very well just ignore the North Korean leader’s regime, according to Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul.

“Conservatives are supporters not so much of a tough position in relations with North Korea as of the maximum disregard for the very fact of the existence of another Korean state,” Lankov wrote on a blog for the Valdai Club, a Russian think tank.

Kim certainly got the attention of Moon with Sunday’s IRBM test.

The South Korean President said in a statement that the IRBM firing could be considered as a signal the Kim regime is preparing to scrap its moratorium on intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and nuclear testing.

That moratorium has largely kept North Korea out of the international spotlight, but longer range missile tests could reverse that trend.

‘No fire, no fury’