Pyongyang celebrated the successful launch of its new missile with a massive parade, North Korean state media revealed Friday.
North Korea launched a new weapon Sunday, the Hwasong-12 medium long-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile. The test broke several records, as the missile is the longest-range weapon the North has tested to date. The new missile is believed to be the foundation for a future intercontinental ballistic missile. In the immediate aftermath, North Korea released propaganda photos of Kim Jong Un laughing with and hugging rocket scientists.
When they returned to the capital city, the missile developers received a hero’s welcome.
“Streets of the capital city of Pyongyang were full of [a] festive atmosphere to greet the scientists of national defense,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Friday. “Hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life, and school youth and children, were waiting for the merited persons along the streets.”
The Rodong Sinmun, official paper of the ruling party, ran the headline, “People’s Enthusiastic Welcome for Defense Science Warriors,” reporting that, “Every street in the capital fluttered with celebration atmosphere to greet the warriors of the national defense and science.”
The North’s rocket scientists “bravely rushed to a new goal showing proudly to the world and brought the historical decisive victory in developing nuclear attack means and strategic weapons which can end the confrontation with the U.S. imperialist and give the North the ultimate victory like the checkmate,” the party organ wrote.
However, the successful launch in February of the KN-15 (Pukguksong-2), a solid-fueled intermediate-range missile with a similar range to the Hwasong-12 was not met with the same fanfare, reports NK News. The celebration this time around could potentially indicate that the new missile represents a more substantial breakthrough in missile technology.
Expert observers suspect that the North Korean missile program is advancing much faster than originally expected, with some suggesting the North could develop an ICBM in one year rather than five. The recent test appears to have involved a re-entry vehicle test, as well as an experiment with a heavier warhead.
North Korea calls the weapon, “The strength of the powerful self-reliant nuclear state.”
At the recent parade, the residents of Pyongyang poured into the streets in their finest attire, some waving red flags in celebration. The missile developers saluted statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and met state officials.
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