… but at least they’re admitting it.
North Korean officials have admitted that a rocket carrying a satellite crashed spectacularly shortly after take-off today, the country’s third such failure in the past 15 years. But the failure to launch – many observers had speculated that it was really a test for ballistic missiles– is perhaps more notable for the fact that the North Korean regime has actually admitted what happened. The last time North Korea launched a rocket, in 2009, the regime of Kim Jong-Il told its public that craft had lifted off successfully and was orbiting Earth, broadcasting revolutionary songs to all the denizens of the world. That, of course, was a big fat lie. The admission of Friday’s failure has some hoping that Kim Jong-Un, the young leader who rose to power after his father’s death late last year, might be slowly ushering in an era of (relative) openness and honesty. The closed-off dictatorship also bussed in foreign journalists to view the launch-site beforehand, a rare feat for a country that’s next to impossible for journalists to enter. The admission of failure, and hopes of increased openness, then, might provide some solace to North Korea’s 25 million people. After all, the rocket’s construction and launch cost an estimated $850 million – enough money to feed 19 million people for a year in a country that is entirely dependent on international food aid.