North Korea’s Embarrassing Rocket Launch

If you’ve kept up with the news at all, you may know about North Korea’s recent failed rocket launch. I know it’s been in the news quite a lot but I thought I’d provide a simplified version of what happened.

This past March, North Korea and the United States entered negotiations once again. The United States offered to provide 240,000 metric tons of nutritional assistance if North Korea would “freeze its nuclear and missile tests, along with uranium enrichment programs, and allow the return of U.N. nuclear inspectors.” This was big step both for North Korea and the U.S. because it meant that the North would possibly be giving up its biggest weapon and it also meant that the United States would be sending food aid to the impoverished country for the first time since 2009. It was also the first time North Korea and the U.S. had official talks since Kim Jong Un came to power. Thus, these negotiations had a lot of meaning because it would have determined DPRK’s future relationship with the United States.

The negotiations did get pretty far. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said that they were “down to issues like what port, when, who manages it, how do we count, how do we monitor.” However, as is the usual case with North Korea, complications arose when the North declared that they will be launching rocket for the purpose of putting a weather satellite into orbit. North Korea claimed that “the peaceful development and use of space is a universally recognized legitimate right of a sovereign state” and thus they are not in violation of the contract. Despite much criticism from many different nations, North Korea went through with the launch.

The rocket was launched on Friday April 13th at 7:39 AM. However, the rocket disintegrated into about 20 pieces and crashed into the sea not long after liftoff.

The launch was supposed to give a power boost to Kim Jong Un as a means to solidify his position as leader of North Korea. But the billion dollar launch has only left an embarrassing dent in his record, raising questions about his leadership. What’s worse for them, is that for the first time they were forced to tell the North Korean people of a failure because in the country that now has at least a million cellphone users, the news is bound to spread fast. All in all, this is an embarrassing setback for Kim Jong Un. “It could be the first test of whether anyone will dare challenge his rule, and raises the question, American officials said, of whether he will be tempted to recover by staging a larger provocation.”

So where does this leave the rest the world? Simply put, it leaves us in the dark again, not knowing what they’ll do next. And North Korea? Well, they’re out a billion dollars that could have been used to feed about 19 million people for a whole year and are also left with an embarrassing story that North Koreans will most likely talk about for a while. Other than that, not much has changed. We’re still on the outside trying to catch a glimpse of the inside and North Korea is… well, North Korea.

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