The North Korea Problem Child

Behold! The hermit kingdom wants to colonize space!

Wednesday was a big day for North Korea.

First, in a gathering of the Workers’ Party in Pyongyang on Wednesday, there was the official naming of Kim Jong Un, former leader Kim Jong Il’s son and political successor, as the first secretary of the Workers’ Party of North Korea. This newly created title, given to him 4 months after the death of his father, solidifies his place as the “supreme ruler” of North Korea and marks the young man’s rise to power. He is also expected to receive additional political promotions this week, which is filled with celebrations leading up to the 100th birthday of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung.

But the festivities didn’t end there. In a move that can only be described as hanging up their retired all-star’s jersey, The Workers’ Party also gave Kim Jong Il the title: “Eternal General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of North Korea,” which is Kim’s former title, only with “Eternal” attached to it. Kim Il Sung, or “Eternal President of North Korea”, received the same posthumous treatment. And whoever said cultish immortalization is outdated?

But again, the festivities didn’t end there. North Korea also announced that they are in the process of fueling their Unha-3 rocket, which is carrying a satellite that is supposedly for weather and agricultural research. The rocket, which North Korean officials say will be launched sometime between Thursday and Monday, is supposed to be a tribute to Kim Il Sung for his birthday. They insist that the launch is peaceful and for the purpose of furthering their space program, and that they are in no way violating the U.N. Security Council resolution that bans North Korea from developing its nuclear program. Alas, the U.S., Britain, and Japan all agree that if they launch, it would be interpreted as provocation, and that action would be taken against them at the Security Council.

So let’s sum this up: we have a state with a brand new supreme leader, claiming that they are launching a rocket as a gift to their “Eternal President.” This rocket just happens to be the exact kind of rocket that is capable of carring a nuclear warhead, but they claim that the launch is critical to the success of their space program.

Because a $40 billion GDP is going to get you a highly successful space program, and your space program has nothing to do with your tests of nuclear weapons, right?

Ladies and Gentlemen: the North Korean problem child.


Douglas E. Payne