Video of a celebration concert following North Korea’s latest missile launch, believed to have been a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), reportedly shows never-before-seen archival footage of the history of the communist nation’s missile program.
A CNN report has analyzed stills from the video released by the North Korean government and found images of older, failed missile systems, including the rare showing of a failed missile test. The images could help American and South Korean observers better understand the trajectory of the program and, possibly, predict what North Korean engineers are attempting to achieve technically with new models.
North Korea regularly threatens to annihilate the continental United States with nuclear weapons.
According to CNN, the images are part of an hour and a half long film published by the North Korean government showing dictator Kim Jong-un feting the engineers responsible for the latest missile launch, believed to have been the testing of a Hwasong-14 ICBM on July 4. Part of the event featured a history of the missile program, in which the government reportedly “showed old images of missile systems that would leave a huge mark on the North’s missile program, scenes from tests that failed, development facilities and even what may be our first ground imagery of what North Korean missile basing, or storage, looks like.”
The images appear to show the engine of one of the early versions of the Hwasong series missile, which may allow foreign engineers to attain a better grasp of the how the Hwasong-10 functioned. “The Hwasong-10’s engine uses a complex design that signals a break from North Korea’s reliance on iterations of the Scud and similar Nodong missile engine,” CNN notes.
Especially notable in the series is that the Kim regime allowed those viewing the history to see failed missile launches. The North Korean regime rarely admits to error, and a cornerstone of life in North Korea is the worship of the Kim family as infallible. In the government’s official version of events regarding this celebration, such video is not mentioned.
The government newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, instead highlights that the event featured extensive praise of Kim Jong-un. “Respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un attended the ceremony. All the participants in the ceremony broke into storming cheers of ‘hurrah,’ looking up to the Supreme Leader,” the newspaper reported. “He made a congratulatory speech.”
Both the Rodong Sinmun and the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the government’s multimedia outlet, publish multiple stories a day effusively praising the Kim family. On Thursday, KCNA featured a story boasting, “the great Generalissimo Kim Il Sung’s undying feats for victory in the war and the history of the great Generalissimo Kim Jong Il’s Songun revolutionary leadership are being carried forward as the history of steady victory of Songun Korea under the guidance of respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un,” claiming to quote a North Korean ally group in China. That group reportedly believed “that the invincible Paektusan army would wipe out all of the U.S. imperialists, the sworn enemy, if they pounce upon the DPRK with reckless military provocation.”
While the North Korean regime has scheduled time to celebrate past missile launches, experts believe they are planning many more in the future. The South Korean newswire service Yonhap reported Thursday that U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) Gen. Vincent K. Brooks referred to “nearly weekly” missile tests out of Pyongyang as “the new normal.” Multiple American defense officials told CNN this week that there is reason to believe another test could occur as soon as Thursday, the anniversary of the armistice agreement that ended fighting in the Korean War (as no declaration of peace or surrender has been signed, the Korean War is technically ongoing). In North Korea, July 27 is known as “The Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War.”
On Thursday, South Korean officials told Yonhap that weather may delay any planned missile launches that day. “There’s no sign detected this morning of North Korea’s imminent missile launch,” a “military source” told the outlet. “Our military is continuing to closely monitor North Korea’s activity, mobilizing combined surveillance assets with the United States.”