Ahn Young-joon, Associated Press
South Korean housewives stage a press conference denouncing the annual joint military exercise known as Foal Eagle, between South Korea and the United States, near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 8, 2013. South Korea’s top security official said Sunday that North Korea may be setting the stage for a missile test or another provocative act with its warning that it soon will be unable to guarantee diplomats’ safety in Pyongyang. But he added that the North’s clearest objective is to extract concessions from Washington and Seoul. The writing reads "Stop Exercise."

North Korea’s threatened military strikes against South Korea and/or the United States and other nations have dominated print and online news in recent days. The world seems to be trying to figure out what’s really going on. Here are five recent opinion pieces worth reading:

Bloomberg View columnist William Pesek believes we all need to calm down a bit and try to understand North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s motivations. “It is always possible that Kim has suicidal tendencies. But what has the Kim Dynasty, through three generations, spent every waking moment doing? Staying in power and keeping the world out.” Attacking the world doesn’t fit that mold.

The Courier Mail in Australia sees hope in indications that China is growing impatient with its North Korean ally. Because of its proximity, Australia fears a regional crisis should war erupt. “Australia must remain firm and stand steadfastly with South Korea and the U.S. in the face of North Korean aggression. Ms. (Australian Prime Minister Julia) Gillard must make it clear to the Chinese that we welcome any Chinese efforts to cool the diplomatic temperature, but that this must not compromise wider regional and strategic — and indeed humanitarian — concerns.”

The Arizona Republic’s Robert Robb wonders why North Korea is the United States’ problem. The U.S. makes it a problem by its agreements to defend certain allies in the region, which also influences how China views the situation. “Without an oversized U.S. presence and role, China’s calculation regarding North Korea might be different. North Korea is a drain on China’s resources. South Korea and Japan are a $200 billion export market for it.”

The L.A. Times says even if the current crisis ends peacefully, it firmly establishes North Korea's determination to obtain nuclear weapons. That could have an effect on regional nuclear ambitions, leading South Korea and Japan to want such weapons, as well. The paper argues that the United States must try to trade "aid and normal relations" for the north abandoning its nuclear program.

Finally, even smaller newspapers are weighing in. The Daily News, serving Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans counties in New York, urges the United States to appeal to China as the best hope to contain North Korea. The United States, it says, has no leverage. “A destabilized peninsula or broader regional conflict is not in Beijing’s interests either.”

Jay Evensen is the associate editor of the Deseret News editorial page. Follow him on Twitter @jayevensen.