An essential function of ICBMs is that there are capable of traversing continents, just as nuclear tests are expected to be accompanied by at least attempts at tests. In North Korea, as the Dear Larder grapples with the new-found responsibilities following the departure of his father – to a netherworld stalked by shades of his supernaturally outraged victims – fulfilment of neither criterion is guaranteed.
Chatter in August of this year about a third nuclear test came to nowt. This followed the attempted launch of Kwangmyongsong-3 in April.
Touted as a ‘weather’ satellite (perhaps to monitor whichever meteorological phenomenon food shortages are next going to be attributed to) it just so happened to have ICBM capabilities from its Unha-3 carrier rocket. Publically and spectacularly, however, it self-destructed so, unlike the non-arrival in orbit but unobserved destruction in the atmosphere of Kwangmyongsong-2 (in 2009) and Kwangmyongsong (in 1998), Pyongyang admitted as such.
The April date would have been auspicious as it marked the 100th anniversary of birth of Kim Il-sung. With the first anniversary of the death of his father – on 17 December 2011 – approaching, Kim Jong-eun is preparing for a retest of Kwangmyongsong-3.In other news, the Chosun Ilbo carries the not-grissily-enough-to-be-impossible-in-North-Korea report that towards the end of October, an errant General was executed by mortar fire at point blank range. Kim Chol previously had held the role of deputy defence minister, and was known for his fondness of drink and women in defiance of Kim Jong-eun’s prohibition of “singing or dancing, merrymaking or recreation” (this coming from a biscuit-snarfler who enjoys the singing of excellent horse-like ladies).
Pointers to this being gossip do exist, such as a similar report having appeared in South Korean media in March. If Kim Chol has been removed from his position, it is more likely he is under house arrest; as happened in July to Ri Yong-ho. A close ally of Kim Jong-il, Ri Yong-ho had been the Commander-in-Chief of the Korean People’s Army before being replaced by Jang Song-thaek, a KPA outsider and husband to Kim Jong-eun’s aunt.
A florid kleptocrat even by debased Juche standards, Ri Yong-ho had outsourced extensive mercantile interests to the Chinese border city of Dandong; and, according to the Chosun Ilbo, other sticky-fingered officials in this city are being recalled to Pyongyang.
Dandong also was the location of another unexamined death of a Korean missionary. In August 2011, Kim Chang-hwan collapsed from a seizure; and subsequently, severe injuries were found on his body as well as evidence of neostigmine bromide: a poison of choice of North Korean agents. Now, following testimony from a Northern infiltrator to this South, reports are emerging that this was, indeed, murder.
Lastly, sometimes even PressTV is correct. Before reports that a State-owned telecommunications company, TeliaSonera was paying backhanders to Tashkent, the Swedish public was digesting revelations that their Government had protected the narco-diplomacy and debts of Pyongyang in the 1970s.