Nightly News   |  April 12, 2013

North Korea becomes online sensation

North Korea is trending online and has been searched on Google more than ever before now that the country’s outlandish threats have gotten the world’s attention. Kim Jong-un is still expected to launch a missile, and some analysts predict they will then ask for money not to do it again. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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>>> as the drama continues to play out on the world stage, the motives behind the actions of north korea starting to be a little bit more clear. something of a trade-off the north perhaps expects to get out of this. we get that part of the story tonight from our chief foreign correspondent richard engel .

>> reporter: analysts say north korea doesn't want nuclear war . that would be suicidal. along the border there are no signs it's mobilizing for one. ultimately, this is about money. using threats as blackmail for aid and to advertise north korea 's weapons to sell them to other rogue states .

>> about presenting him as a hero. it's also about squeezing more money from the outside world .

>> reporter: so far the strategy is working. north korea has captured the world's attention, gotten the u.s. to react. it is no accident. several of the most outlandish threatses issued in the middle of the night in korea have been perfectly timed for american television . north korea has become a sensation online. a country that severely limits internet access for its own people is trending worldwide on twitterer. searched on google more than ever before. what's the attraction? strange propaganda. the leader coming off like a movie villain. chubby, odd haircut, carrying a gun, poring over attack plans with troops that follow him doing anything to catch a glimpse of their leader. crazy like a fox .

>> just manufacturer a crisis and then they essentially extract payment to back off.

>> reporter: analysts expect north korea will launch its missile and then ask for money not to do it again. until it needs more money the next time. brian, we are all still waiting for that missile test. perhaps monday. that's when festivities in pyongyang culminate, but the test won't end it. the question now is how to deal with a rogue state using nuclear weapons for blackmail. brian?

>> richard engel part of our team in seoul tonight.