Surprise! New Dear Leader conducts missile test

posted at 9:25 am on December 19, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

You know what a good funeral needs?  Fireworks:

North Korea test fired a short-range missile off the country’s eastern coast Monday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, the same day leader Kim Jong Il’s death was announced.

The missile launch was not believed to be linked to the North Korean dictator’s death, Yonhap said, citing an unnamed South Korean official.

“This is something that the military has continued to follow … we believe it is not related to the death of Chairman Kim Jong Il,” the official was quoted as saying.

Kim, thought to be 69, died of a heart attack at 8:30 a.m. local time Saturday, a weeping TV announcer dressed all in black told the nation earlier.

In the headline, I wrote, “Surprise!”, but this might be right on time.  Time’s Bill Powell noted earlier this morning the need for new DPRK leader Kim Jong-un to consolidate power and prevent the military from seeing a power vacuum at the top.  What better way to do so than to conduct a little sabre-rattling?

Last year, he was also given general’s stars in the military and named vice chairman of the powerful central military committee. Kim Jong Un’s father had worked steadily to align his own interests with that of the military — one of the reasons, NGO officials have said, that so much food aid over the years intended for the general population has been diverted to the army. The Dear Leader’s steadfast pursuit of a nuclear arsenal — and his unwillingness to trade the North’s nuclear capability for economic favors from the outside world — were also in alignment with the military’s wishes. “One has to presume the son would never have been put in this position [of] heir apparent had the generals not approved,” says one diplomatic source in Seoul. …

Kim Jong Il’s death comes just days after a bilateral meeting in Beijing between U.S. and DPRK officials, at which special envoy for human rights Robert King held talks with a senior DPRK foreign ministry official. Unconfirmed press reports in Seoul say that at the meeting Pyongyang agreed to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency back in to the country, to impose a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests, and to suspend its uranium enrichment program — in return for 240,000 tons of food aid. However, analysts believe that this diplomatic momentum may be slowed by Kim’s death. As Kim Jong Un consolidates his political power, “North Korea will become even more inward looking, at least for a while,” says Bruce Klingner, senior fellow at the Heritage Institute and a former North Korea watcher at the CIA.

The good news, for an outside world that lives in fear of erratic behavior from the North, is that the younger Kim has had three years to prepare for the assumption of dictatorial power. “There s less of a concern about instability now than had Kim Jong Il died three years ago,” Klingner says. At the same time, the DPRK has only gone through a transition like this once before, and that was when Kim Jong Il was 52-years-old. The country is now once again having problems feeding itself, its economy is moribund, and problems are falling to a 29-year-old to fix. It’s a safe bet that if North Korea’s propaganda artists haven’t already prepared new iconography depicting the youngest Kim alongside his father and grandfather at Baekdu-san, they’re certainly busy at it now.

The missile test is more or less an announcement that the envoys to the Pyongyang talks should find themselves something else to do for a few weeks.  In terms of the transition, though, perhaps this CNN segment I found this morning will show just how seriously Jong-un’s dad took the issue … and how unseriously some of the media take North Korea’s famine and tyranny.  This report is embarrassing for its breathless coverage of the “pageantry” of Kim’s showcraft for the national media, but at least Alina Cho mentions the chronic famine that exists outside of these stage shows.  The Danish actor featured near the end is apparently auditioning for the role of Walter Duranty, either in a play or in real life, as he grabs young Korean girls and pronounces how wonderful he finds the DPRK to be:

“I can’t see it!” he declares.  “Maybe it is there, but all I can see is … lucky people.“  Dear Lord.


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Comment pages: 1 2

You also have to remember we have a lot of troops in South Korea, so the NK wouldn’t be able to just run all over the south unimpeded.

No, but they could make one hell of a mess.

North Korea is down to two options:

Slow lonely death by staravtion

Or

Suicide by cop

Wallythedog on December 19, 2011 at 1:00 PM

You also have to remember we have a lot of troops in South Korea, so the NK wouldn’t be able to just run all over the south unimpeded.

dentarthurdent on December 19, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Currently 28,500 US troops in South Korea. If North Korea launched a surprise attack our small force is going to be doing much to stop hundreds of thousands of North Koreans.

NotCoach on December 19, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Currently 28,500 US troops in South Korea. If North Korea launched a surprise attack our small force is going to be doing much to stop hundreds of thousands of North Koreans.

NotCoach on December 19, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Yeah, short of a gatling every 100 yards there’s only so much they can do. And although the NK troops are badly sub-par, it doesn’t take a Rambo to charge wildly and fire a machinegun.

MelonCollie on December 19, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Yeah, short of a gatling every 100 yards there’s only so much they can do. And although the NK troops are badly sub-par, it doesn’t take a Rambo to charge wildly and fire a machinegun.

MelonCollie on December 19, 2011 at 1:04 PM

You are underestimate the value of our superior Air Force.

Pythagoras on December 19, 2011 at 1:19 PM

You are underestimate the value of our superior Air Force.

Pythagoras on December 19, 2011 at 1:19 PM

We don’t have enough of anything in South Korea to stop a full scale invasion. The South Korean military would have to do all of the heavy lifting. Hopefully their forces are up to the task, because if not we would have to basically retake the country once we got a sizable force into the peninsula.

NotCoach on December 19, 2011 at 1:24 PM

Was Dear Leader in the rocket and was it being attempted to be shot into orbit around the earth?

albill on December 19, 2011 at 1:32 PM

You are underestimate the value of our superior Air Force.

Pythagoras on December 19, 2011 at 1:19 PM

What do they have over there for ground-attack capability? The NK AF is $hit; the battle’s going to be won or lost down below.

MelonCollie on December 19, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Remember when Madeline Albright, that hideous woman who served as Sec of State under Clinton said: Don’t make fun of their Taepo Dongs?

kens on December 19, 2011 at 1:41 PM

I have heard from many of my military friends that if there is any military force outside of our ready for war, it is the South Koreans…that, and that their special forces kick major a**. They have been preparing for many years for what everyone knows will eventually happen.

airmonkey on December 19, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Sure looks well fed. He must get extra helpings of grass and bark.

Akzed on December 19, 2011 at 1:53 PM

We don’t have enough of anything in South Korea to stop a full scale invasion. The South Korean military would have to do all of the heavy lifting. Hopefully their forces are up to the task, because if not we would have to basically retake the country once we got a sizable force into the peninsula.

NotCoach on December 19, 2011 at 1:24 PM

It would be a big mess.

Even a bombed and burnout South Korea would be a wonderland for the average North Korean trooper and result in culture shock that would likely break down the command structure.(28 billion dollar economy vs a 1.163 trillion dollar economy,*From Wikipedia) The North would be destoryed, 50% to 90% of the South would be destroyed. Millions would be dead, parts of both countries may glow in the dark.

Wallythedog on December 19, 2011 at 2:05 PM

It would be a big mess.
Wallythedog on December 19, 2011 at 2:05 PM

More or less my original point. If it were to go that way, it would be mass murder/suicide for the entire Korean peninsula. I think you have a good point though as to a reason the NK leadership may not actually want their troops going into the South – they would see how the other side has been living compared to the North. That in itself could lead to mass revolt by the conscripted NK army and starving population.

dentarthurdent on December 19, 2011 at 2:39 PM

I don’t think N. Korea would do as much damage as people think they would do. This is not a reason to want war, but the technology differences are staggering now. Nuclear artillery would be N. Korea’s only chance of “capturing” Seoul and I’m not sure they are there yet.

scotash on December 19, 2011 at 2:42 PM

The only saving grace is that Kim the younger at least went to school outside NK. He perhaps saw everything there is to offer NK if they don’t do anything stupid. Problem is he went back home to daddy and god only knows what kind of brainwashing occurred.

Logical people well informed of the facts realize this is disaster for both sides if war breaks out. Whether he and the NoK military have grasped that logic, only time will tell.

moniker11 on December 19, 2011 at 3:41 PM

NK’s only chance at “winning” anything is atomic. The DMZ gives the entire world plenty of warning of an impending ground invasion to neutralize them with ground and air launched missiles and bombs. It doesn’t take hundreds of thousands of troops to defeat low-tech adversaries. Knowing this is the reason they have never tried it.

That leaves nuclear weapons. Again, no value, because their purpose would be to conquer land, not destroy it or render it unusable. If they bombed out a 60-mile radius around Seoul, it would take out a substantial percentage of SK’s manufacturing base, and then there would be very little worth taking over.

They are, quite literally, painted into a corner, as long as their overall leadership retains any sanity. That is the question of the time.

RRR4VR on December 19, 2011 at 4:21 PM

I don’t think N. Korea would do as much damage as people think they would do. This is not a reason to want war, but the technology differences are staggering now. Nuclear artillery would be N. Korea’s only chance of “capturing” Seoul and I’m not sure they are there yet.

scotash on December 19, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Have you ever been to South Korea? Or looked on a map? Seoul is maybe 5 minutes flight time from the DMZ. And of course now that North Korea has nuclear weapons, you know, the kind that doesn’t need a missile but can be dropped from an aircraft, Seoul would be the first to go.

Mitoch55 on December 19, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Un looks a little too well fed. Must be those double servings of peasant under glass.

Coronagold on December 19, 2011 at 6:14 PM

That moron at the end who had the nerve to say “lucky people” can say that because he doesn’t live there.

What a sad sack of shite — totally oblivious to the suffering of an entire people. Sick.

Richard Romano on December 19, 2011 at 6:32 PM

Are all North Koreans fat and retarded?

Jaibones on December 19, 2011 at 6:58 PM

Are all North Koreans fat and retarded?
Jaibones on December 19, 2011 at 6:58 PM

Only the elite ruling class. The peasants are skinny, malnourished, and weak – hence their inability to overthrow the fat retards running the country. And we keep providing free food in the name charity/humanity – which only goes to the military and ruling class. So as is typical, the “best intentions” of the bleeding hearts running our country help keep the tyrants in power and the peasnats starving and oppressed in NK.

dentarthurdent on December 19, 2011 at 8:25 PM

We don’t have enough of anything in South Korea to stop a full scale invasion. The South Korean military would have to do all of the heavy lifting. Hopefully their forces are up to the task, because if not we would have to basically retake the country once we got a sizable force into the peninsula.

NotCoach on December 19, 2011 at 1:24 PM

Sounds like the lessons of early 1950 have been forgotten…

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on December 19, 2011 at 9:37 PM

Sounds like the lessons of early 1950 have been forgotten…

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on December 19, 2011 at 9:37 PM

Yes. That does sound like the lessons have been forgotten. But they have not. The US Military conducts regular exercises in Korea. They are well prepared and well schooled. That’s why the last “dear leader” (as crazy as he was) didn’t invade.

He knew that any invasion would trigger an instant cruise missile counter-attack that would destroy his infrastructure (such as it is) as well as his person. He knew that the US would establish air supremacy in a matter of hours and would interdict his supply lines at every level. He knew that the invading troops would have absolutely no rear-echelon support and would quickly run out of everything needed to fight.

We prepare diligently because insane people make insane decisions and thus we cannot be sure what the next dear leader will do. We are ready. Ask anyone with any actual military knowledge and you’ll get the same story.

Pythagoras on December 20, 2011 at 5:47 AM

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