The Confused Person’s Guide to the North Korean missile launch


Trailing behind it broken international laws and broken trust, a rocket allegedly carrying the Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite took off from North Korea on Feb 7. For the confused person(s), here are some answers to important questions about the implications of this North Korean action.

What did North Korea launch?
According to North Korean state broadcaster KCTV, at 9 a.m. Pyongyang time, North Korea successfully set into orbit a satellite, carried by rocket Kwangmyongsong. Through joint South Korean and United States military investigations, the satellite was confirmed to be successfully in orbit.

Why is this important?
Military agencies around the world believe that this “satellite” test is actually a front for testing ballistic missile technology. The alarm rises in that this launch took place just a month after North Korea’s purported hydrogen bomb test.

What international laws were they breaking through this testing?
Under United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions, North Korea is prohibited from developing nuclear weapons or ballistic-style technology. With their recent hydrogen bomb tests and rocket launch this Monday, North Korea has effectively gone against these sanctions.

How has the international community responded?
Immediately after the launch, South Korea, the US, and Japan called for an emergency meeting of the UNSC and requested “firmer action” against North Korea, while China suggested that the major powers “act cautiously.”

South Korea has gone into talks with the United States for deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) program in South Korea. THAAD is an anti-ballistic missile system that functions by shooting down missiles using missiles of their own. According to CNN, China warns against deployment of this act as China considers the program a threat to its own safety.

What are the repercussions for North Korea?
As of Feb. 11, South Korea has closed down the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which was run in cooperation with North Korea since 2004. According to South Korean Reunification Minister Hong Yongpo, North Korea had been receiving approximately 616 billion won from the complex since its opening.

The South Korean government stated on Feb. 10 that the majority of this money is thought to have gone towards development of weapon technology rather than its intended use of improving the lives of North Korean citizens. The last time that the Kaesong Industrial Complex closed was 2013, when conflicts regarding the Key Resolve program heightened tensions.