EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) — An expert in Asian affairs hears the sound of political signals as well as saber rattling from inside North Korea.

Northwestern University political scientist William Hurst says North Korea is truly irked and responding to the annual show of military force by the U.S. and South Korea, but adds, “Saber rattling can open up political space for risk-taking at home.”

Prof Hurst says the North Korean saber rattling could indeed serve as an internal shield for liberalization by the western educated Kim Jong Un.

“One could sort of think of it that way, right, that taking a very hard-line stance abroad may be giving some space to make more liberalizing moves than he would have been able to do otherwise,” said Hurst.

Professor Hurst acknowledges a certain amount of speculation and interpretation but feels certain North Korean has no intention of invading the south or starting a shooting war.

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