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Kim Jong Un looks depressed over the anti-aircraft missile test

Kim Jong Un looks depressed over the anti-aircraft missile test

Posted May. 29, 2017 07:27,   

Updated May. 29, 2017 07:35

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watched the test of anti-aircraft (ground-to-air) guided weapon system developed by the Academy of National Defense Science on Sunday. It was the second time that the North fired the ground-to-air missiles since April 2016 and it appears that the country improved the capability of its missiles.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the state news agency of North Korea, reported on Sunday that some defects of the weapon system detected last year were completely overcome, its precision was enhanced, and the weapon system was eval‎uated to pass the criteria.

A photo of firing KN-06, North Korea’s ground-to-air missile, from cylindrical launcher was released. The KN-06 was first appeared in the military inspection in October 2010 when the self-fire control unit, self-phased array radar, and cylindrical launcher were released and got the attention of intelligence agencies. The KN-06 bears resemblance to the Russian S-300 and Chinese FT-2000 and is apparently capable of hitting targets up to 150 km away.

Unlike the KCNA’s report on the success of the missile test, Kim Jong Un looked depressed in a photo released by Rodong Sinmun, a North Korean newspaper. In past photos, Kim Jong Un looked pleased in every launch of its missile. The North Korean leader was facing forward with displeasing look like he had a big concern while holding binoculars and the mood surrounding him was not that different. Chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army Ri Yong Gil was heavily looking down while folding his hands behind his back and vice chief of the Korean People’s Army Oh Geum Chol was lowering his head while keeping his hands folded like a guilty man.

Ri Byong Chol, first vice chief of the Workers’ Party’s military industry department, and other officials also looked nervous and pensive. Seen from this, it appears that the missiles were not properly fired or significant defects were detected on the weapon system. It is rare that the country disclosed photos that both the leader and high-level officials looked displeased.

Sung-Ha Joo zsh75@donga.com