It was confirmed on Wednesday that North Korea test-launched a hypersonic missile on Tuesday in Chagang Province, following North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s announcement of its development in January this year. A hypersonic missile is considered a game-changer, along with a submarine-launched ballistic missile, which can neutralize the missile defense system of South Korea and the U.S. Concerns are raised that once the North completes its missile capabilities and tactical nuclear weapons are mounted and deployed, the country’s threat to ambush South Korea with nuclear power will be on another level.
“The newly developed hypersonic missile Hwasong-8 was test-fired by the Academy of Defense Science in Toyang-ri, Ryongrim County of Chagang Province on Tuesday morning,” the Korean Central News Agency of North Korea reported on Wednesday. The news agency emphasized that the first test launch “ascertained the stability of the engine as well as of missile fuel ampoule that has been introduced for the first time.” The news agency also said that the test results proved that all the technical specifications met the design requirements.
The exterior of Hwasong-8 in the pictures released by North Korea is very similar to DF-17, a Chinese hypersonic missile. Pak Jong Chon, a member of the Presidium of the Politburo of the ruling Workers' Party, guided the launch. Leader Kim Jong Un did not attend the firing. It is expected that there will be additional test launches considering it was the first test.
“We take reports of any new capability seriously,” said a U.S. Department of State spokesperson on Wednesday (local time). “We condemn any illicit missile launches, which are destabilizing to the region and to the international community.”