North Korean state TV aired a bizarre video Friday afternoon showing off the country’s latest nuclear-capable ICBM. And while the Hwasong-17 missile was meant to be the star of the show, we all know the real star.
The video segment, first reported by NK News, features dictator Kim Jong Un, decked out like a 1980s action hero, complete with bomber jacket and sunglasses. Much of the video is in slow-motion, with Kim walking in front of the new missile, pointing in various directions and looking at his watch as the quick edits speed up.
The pumping music leads to a crescendo and Kim slowly removes his sunglasses while looking directly to camera. With a head nod Kim has seemingly given the okay to proceed with the production and the gigantic missile is driven out of a large hangar. It’d all be pretty amusing if it wasn’t a video about a weapon that could help destroy millions of lives on planet Earth—especially at a time when nuclear tensions are already through the roof.
U.S. military officials have reportedly been unable to contact their Russian counterparts since Russia first invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, meaning that the risk of a misunderstanding that could lead to a nuclear missile launch from either side is arguably higher than at any time in recent memory.
The new North Korean ICBM, which was test launched for the first time on Thursday, was originally revealed at a military parade in October of 2020. But this is the first time intelligence analysts will be able to get a thorough look at the new missile actually taking off.
The roughly 12-minute video, which Gizmodo has uploaded to YouTube, has already aired at least twice on state-run KCTV this afternoon Korea-time. And it’s incredibly likely that it will air again in the evening so that North Koreans can watch it tonight.
And while Kim clearly stole the show, there’s plenty of footage showing the missile being launched, presumably during Thursday’s test. What’s the big deal with this new missile, the Hwasong-17? For one thing, it’s rumored to be a multi-warhead weapon, meaning that once it’s launched, it can hit multiple targets at once.
It’s also the largest missile North Korea’s ever produced with the most impressive altitude and flight-time ever recorded by the country’s military. The missile flew 671 miles, and reached an altitude of 3,853 miles with an airtime of roughly 71 minutes, according to NK News.
Compare that with the Hwasong-15, which flew in November of 2017 for just 53 minutes, reached a height of 2,780 miles and traveled about 590 miles. North Korea has clearly made quite a number of advances in the past few years.
The White House denounced the missile test on Thursday, though it should be noted in the interest of fairness that the U.S. regularly shoots its own nuclear-capapble ICBMs from California into the Pacific Ocean. However, a missile launch scheduled for earlier this month was postponed after Russia invaded Ukraine in an effort not to heighten tensions. Again, any misunderstanding between the U.S. and Russia right now could be catastrophic for the entire world.
“This launch is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region,” the White House said in a statement published online about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
“This action demonstrates that the DPRK continues to prioritize its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs over the well-being of its people. We urge all countries to hold the DPRK accountable for such violations and call on the DPRK to come to the table for serious negotiations. The door has not closed on diplomacy, but Pyongyang must immediately cease its destabilizing actions,” the White House continued.
“The United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and Republic of Korea and Japanese allies.”