Kim's penchant for missile launches

An undated photo released by the Korean Central News Agency yesterday showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspecting a test-fire of a ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea. A day after each test, the news agency would releas
An undated photo released by the Korean Central News Agency yesterday showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspecting a test-fire of a ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea. A day after each test, the news agency would release photographs showing Mr Kim directing or inspecting the test launch.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
The North Korean leader at the test launch of a long-range strategic ballistic rocket in an undated photo released on May 15.
The North Korean leader at the test launch of a long-range strategic ballistic rocket in an undated photo released on May 15.PHOTO: REUTERS
Mr Kim inspecting the test launch of intermediate-range ballistic missile Pukguksong-2 in an undated photo released on May 22.
Mr Kim inspecting the test launch of intermediate-range ballistic missile Pukguksong-2 in an undated photo released on May 22.PHOTO: REUTERS
Mr Kim inspecting the test launch of Pukguksong-2 in an undated photo released by Korean Central News Agency on Feb 13.
Mr Kim inspecting the test launch of Pukguksong-2 in an undated photo released by Korean Central News Agency on Feb 13.PHOTO: REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised the latest ballistic missile test launch on Monday that was hailed as successful by the country's official media.

It was not the first time the young leader reportedly oversaw a missile test though - he had done it on several previous occasions.

A day after each test, the official Korean Central News Agency would release undated photographs showing Mr Kim at undisclosed locations, directing or inspecting the test launch.

In some pictures, Mr Kim is shown watching the test launch intensely through a pair of binoculars.

In others, he is photographed smiling broadly or clapping away while seated behind a big table, presumably celebrating the "successful" test launch with the officials standing behind him. And there would always be a map and an ashtray on the table.

Making frequent appearances in those photos with Mr Kim are the same three men said to be the top officials in the secretive country's rapidly accelerating missile programme.

The trio are former top air force general Ri Pyong Chol, veteran rocket scientist Kim Jong Sik and head of weapons development and procurement centre Jang Chang Ha.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2017, with the headline 'Kim's penchant for missile launches'. Print Edition | Subscribe