North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

The Harder The Crash, The Harder They Fall

Jang Myong Jin (L; blue hard hat) and Ryu Kum Chol (R) participate in media availabilities prior to the April 2012 launch of the U'nha-3 (Photos: KCNA)

Jang Myong Jin (L; blue hard hat) and Ryu Kum Chol (R) participate in media availabilities prior to the April 2012 launch of the U’nha-3 (Photos: KCNA)

Yonhap reported on 28 December (Friday) that two Korean Committee for Space Technology [KCST] senior officials involved in the 13 April 2012 launch of the U’nha-3 rocket may have been removed from office after U’nha-3 rocket crashed.  Jang Myong Jin and Ryu Kum Chol were two KCST officials publicly linked to the April 2012 launch; Jang was identified in April as a general manager of the Sohae Space Center and Ryu was a KCST deputy director.  Jang and Ryu were involved in publicity efforts for the launch and participated in several media events prior to the launch.  On 23 December (Sunday) DPRK state media reported that the Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] Presidium awarded a series of state state (DPRK Hero, National Order of the Flag 1st Class and the Gold Star medallion) to  Choe Chun Sik and 100 other scientists, technicians and other personnel who participated in 12 December 2012 U’nha-3 launch.  Neither nor Jang nor Ryu appeared on the list of honorees.  It is not clear whether Jang and Ryu (and others) accepted responsibility for the failure of the April launch and resigned, were dismissed after the launch crash or, as Yonhap suggests, if they were subject to a “possible purge.”  Yonhap interviewed one source who said “It is unlikely that Jang Myong-jin would not have been named a national hero in the latest occasion had he not been purged.  The North seems to have purged Jang on account of leading the failure.”  Another unnamed source claimed “the country may have targeted the mid-level officials as scapegoats instead of purging core scientists necessary for later launch plans.”

 

 

 

 

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