If you thought that the turn of the New Year would see North Korea tone down their nuclear offensive on the rest of the world, then you were very much mistaken. Kim Jong-un has not, as we all hoped, made any resolutions to treat the people of this world with any respect and as such 2018 looks to be much the same as 2017 as far as a nuclear standoff goes.
However, when you combine Donald Trump’s penchant for Twitter tirades and Kim Jong-un’s instability as a leader, it becomes apparent that 2018 could be about to get a lot worse – in fact, it already has. According to The Diplomat, an online magazine based in Tokyo which focusses predominantly on the culture in the Asia-Pacific region, North Korea has started the New Year with a bang – to their dignity – after the truth about a failed missile launch in 2017 was exposed to the world. The incident allegedly occurred on April 28, 2017, after North Korea launched a single missile from Pukchang Airfield which failed shortly after and crashed in Chongsin-dong, a North Korean city, causing “considerable damage to a complex of industrial or agricultural buildings,” according to The Diplomat. They report that “the missile’s first stage engines failed after approximately one minute of powered flight, resulting in catastrophic failure”. Their source comes in the form of a US government official with knowledge of North Korea’s weapon program, but in typical North Korean style – which has been dubbed ‘the hermit kingdom’ – there have been no reports of the incident despite the alleged devastation that the crash caused. In combination with the information provided by their source, The Diplomat claim that “the incident can be independently corroborated in commercially available satellite imagery from April and May 2017.” Had the missile been successful, it is believed that it would have landed in the northern reaches of the Sea of Japan, near the Russian coast. However, the ill-fated missile landed on the small town near the city of Tokchon – which has a population of over 200,000 people. The missile launched was a Hwasong-12, containing a “volatile combination of hypergolic propellant and oxidizer” which “can produce massive explosions depending on how they fail,” according to The Diplomat. “In this case, with the missile having survived its descent following an engine failure, it is likely that this facility at Tokchon experienced a large explosion upon impact,” the magazine continues. “It’s impossible to verify if the incident caused any loss of life and, given the time of day the test occurred and the location of the impact, it may be likely that few, if any, casualties resulted from the incident.” However, looking closely at the Google imagery it is clear to see that the alleged landing site of the failed missile is alarming close to both residential and commercial buildings. Even more alarmingly is the fact that any of the missiles North Korea continue to test have the potential to fail and land in highly populated areas, meaning that the country’s people are at grave risk as Kim Jong-un continues to try and flex his nuclear muscles. In addition, the people of Japan are also in the danger zone after North Korea began to launch its missiles over Japanese territory in August 2017.
This terrifying news combined with Donald Trump’s latest tweet (“North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”) shows how 2018 is just getting started as potentially the scariest year the world has ever seen.