North Korea’s highly publicized launch last week of what had been called a ‘monster missile’ – which included despot Kim Jong Un channeling ‘Top Gun’ – likely involved the same intercontinental ballistic rocket that Pyongyang fired in 2017 , the Seoul army reportedly concluded .
North Korea announced on March 25 that it had successfully tested a Hwasong-17 missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads and striking the American mainland. A clever propaganda video released by the Totalitarian Nation showed Kim overseeing the launch while wearing a leather jacket and aviator sunglasses.
But South Korean military officials told Agence France-Presse that they and the United States believe the rocket was actually a Hwasong-15, a first test ICBM fired in 2017 that also has the capability to hit the United States.
“US and South Korean intelligence determined that what was fired on March 24 was a Hwasong-15,” a South Korean Defense Ministry official told the agency.
Initial reports from South Korea and Japan said the missile flew higher and longer than previous tests, but closer examination revealed anomalies, according to the AFP report.
Last week’s missile was likely fired in an effort to make up for the failed launch of what analysts believe was a Hwasong-17 on March 16. On that occasion, the missile reportedly exploded shortly after launch, causing debris to rain down on the North Korean capital as the rocket zigzagged through the sky in a red ball.
North Korean media did not report on the test firing, which Seoul reportedly noted as odd since state media typically highlight successful launches within 24 hours with an abundance of photos.
But it was previewed in North Korean media through the Hollywood-style video showing Kim channeling Tom Cruise’s character from Maverick in the hit 1986 film.
A successful launch provides significant “propaganda value” to the Kim regime, according to Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
“Not only does the Kim regime derive pride and legitimacy from its nuclear and missile programs,” Easley told AFP, “he presents the build-up of military strength against external threats as a moral justification for domestic economic suffering.” .
With post wires