"Fatal Consequences": North Korea Launches Ballistic Missiles Again

North Korea fired two ballistic missiles this morning after the end of military exercises between the USA, Japan and South Korea

by Sededin Dedovic
"Fatal Consequences": North Korea Launches Ballistic Missiles Again
© Handout / getty Images

North Korea launched two ballistic missiles this morning, the latest in a series of such tests, reported the South Korean military, reported this morning AFP. The first short-range missile was launched early this morning, followed ten minutes later by a second, unidentified projectile, stated the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the South Korean military.

"Our military is strengthening surveillance and vigilance in preparation for further launches," added the South Korean military, noting that it had conveyed this information to the U.S. and Japan. The launches were conducted a few days after North Korea reported that it had successfully tested a missile with multiple warheads, which South Korea claims exploded in flight.

The latest missile tests also followed the conclusion of three-day joint military exercises by the U.S., Japan, and Washington at the end of June. Yesterday, Pyongyang stated that these exercises were an "Asian version of NATO" and warned of "fatal consequences." North Korea regularly criticizes such military exercises, considering them a rehearsal for an invasion of its territory.

South Korea stated yesterday that these were regular defensive exercises. Relations between the two Koreas are at their lowest point in recent years, as Pyongyang intensifies its weapons tests and sends balloons filled with garbage across the border into South Korea in retaliation for Seoul's propaganda against the North Korean regime.

Strengthening Kim Jong Un's Cult

For the first time, North Korean officials have been seen wearing badges with the image of their leader Kim Jong Un, which is believed to represent another sign that the North is strengthening his cult of personality in the same way as with his father and grandfather.

North Koreans are required to wear badges with images of the country's founder, Kim Il Sung, or his son Kim Jong Il, or both.

North Koraen Leader Kim Jong Un© Pool / Getty Images

Badges with the image of Kim Jong Un were not seen until state media published photos on Sunday showing officials wearing badges with his image at a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party.

Wearing badges is part of the state iconography that treats Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as deities. They are celebrated through numerous statues across North Korea, their birthdays are the two main holidays in the country, and their portraits are hung in all homes and offices.

Although few in the country dare to question Kim Jong Un's absolute authority, until now only a few monuments in his honor have been displayed publicly since he took power in late 2011 following his father's death. Recently, however, he has begun taking steps to promote his own cult of personality, while simultaneously trying to step out of the shadow of his father's and grandfather's legacies.

In May, his portrait was publicly displayed for the first time alongside the portraits of his father and grandfather. In January, Kim announced that he would no longer pursue peaceful reunification with South Korea, a decades-long policy cherished by his father and grandfather.

Observers also say that North Korea appears to be refraining from using terms like "Day of the Sun," for the birthday of Kim Il Sung, which is celebrated on April 15. Analysts claim that Kim Jong Un is trying to remove symbols representing his predecessors' legacies to promote his own era.

However, as a third-generation leader in the Kim family, it will be challenging for him to go too far, as it would weaken the legitimacy of his own rule. "The latest series of efforts to idolize Kim Jong Un is likely a move to dilute the significance of his predecessors and establish his authority as a leader who is different from them," said Kim In-ae, Deputy Spokesperson for the South Korean Ministry of Unification, to reporters today.

She said that Kim is also likely trying to strengthen internal solidarity behind his leadership as he grapples with economic difficulties and the influence of South Korean pop culture. In recent years, North Korea's economy has suffered significant problems due to the pandemic, UN sanctions, and poor management.

Some experts say that Kim's moves are also linked to his alleged efforts to position his teenage daughter as his successor.

Remains of North Korean Missiles Found in Ukraine

A research organization that has been tracking the origin of weapons used in Russian attacks on Ukraine since 2018 stated to the UN Security Council that it had "undeniably" established that a ballistic missile, whose remains were found in Ukraine this year, came from North Korea.

The U.S. and its Western allies clashed on Friday with representatives of Russia and North Korea at a UN Security Council meeting, claiming that these two states had violated the UN embargo on the export of weapons from North Korea.

Russia dismissed these claims as "baseless," while North Korea described the discussion about "someone's alleged 'arms transfer'" as "extremely brazen."