The wings of Icarus, North Korean-style

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The wings of Icarus, North Korean-style

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In Greek mythology, Daedalus is a master craftsman who is imprisoned in the labyrinth of Crete with his son Icarus. In order to help his son escape from Crete, Daedalus constructs a set of wings from feathers and wax. Icarus wears the wings on his arms and successfully escapes the island. But he gets too excited to be able to fly properly and soars too close to the sun. The heat from the sun melts the wax, and Icarus falls into the sea and dies.

The failed launch of the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite is reminiscent of the wings of Icarus. The entire world tried to dissuade the launch, but Pyongyang went on to push the launch button of the Unha-3 rocket. About a minute after the liftoff, the rocket exploded into pieces and fell into the West Sea. Pyongyang boasted that some 10 minutes after the launch the satellite would enter orbit, just like a fool who claims he can fly and jumps off a cliff only to die in the fall.

The JoongAng Ilbo featured part of the instructions that Kim Jong-il left his son two months before his death. It is Kim Jong-il’s last will to his son, Kim Jong-un. He was instructed to adhere to the “military-first policy” because North Korea would become a slave to powerful countries if it neglects defense. Kim especially emphasized that constantly developing and possessing sufficient nuclear weapons and long-range missiles is the way to maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula. He did not forget to remind his son that North Korea must win the psychological war against the United States and become a legitimate nuclear power.

Kim Jong-un scrapped the agreement with the U.S. and launched a long-range missile disguised as a satellite in order to follow his father’s instructions. If the test succeeded, Pyongyang could have put considerable pressure on the U.S. both psychologically and militarily. However, the test ended in failure. It must be humiliating for Pyongyang, as the expensive salute to celebrate the third generation of power succession was botched. And the failed fireworks cost North Korea enough money to feed the entire population for several months. It will never get the 240,000 metric tons of food the United States promised, and the international community still condemns the launch attempt. The more Pyongyang adheres to the nuclear program, the more the North Korean residents have to suffer. Kim Jong-il should have told his son to gradually change the system through reform.

The author is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.


by Bae Myung-bok
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