Media Advisory | Dec. 12, 2012

UBC experts comment on North Korea’s rocket launch

UBC experts on North Korea are available to comment on its successful rocket launch.

Prof. Paul Evans
UBC Institute of Asian Research
Tel: 604.822.2048

“The launch of long-range missile into space is an ominous and dangerous development,” says Prof. Evans. “It is not quite equivalent to the Soviet Union’s 1957 Sputnik launch, but it raises the alarm about North Korea’s ability to strike targets in future in every part of Asia and across the Pacific.

“If there is a silver lining to this, the rocket may boost Kim Jong-Un’s domestic credentials as a strong leader, which could help to make greater domestic and economic reform possible.”

Prof. Don Baker
UBC Centre for Korean Research
Tel. 604.822.2048

“There is a big difference between putting a satellite into orbit and landing a nuclear weapon on another country, and North Korea is still a long way from the latter,” says Prof. Baker.

“The satellite was launched more for domestic reasons than global intimidation. It wants to claim that it has met the proclaimed goal of its former leader that North Korea would become a powerful and prosperous nation by 2012. Prosperity is difficult to claim, but launching a satellite does make it look more powerful.”

Prof. Kyung-Ae Park
UBC Centre for Korean Research
Phone: 604.822.2048

“Domestically, the successful launch will be considered a major achievement for Kim Jong-Un in his inaugural year of leadership, and a major boost of moral,” says Prof. Park. “North Korea will be able to mark the anniversary of the death of Kim Jong Il, December 17, with pride over its space technology, and claim victory over South Korea, which has been unable to make a similar launch.”

“It is difficult to see how the launch might influence South Korea’s election next week. People’s heightened sense of security might create more support for the ruling Saenuri party, but, at the same time, they may also accuse the current government of security incompetency.”

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