Korean Central TV (KCTV) reported that Kim Jong Un attended the test of a new
high-thrust engine at a rocket launch station on March 18. Image: KCTV Screenshot
North Korea’s recent test of a new high-thrust rocket engine on March 18 has incited condemnation among ordinary residents, particularly agricultural workers, for what they see as a waste of money. Many are claiming that the funds should have been used to alleviate the daily hardships endured by those in the most vulnerable demographics of North Korean society.
Those who watched the broadcast of the ground test of the “new type” of high-thrust rocket engine, trumpeted as “the birth to a wholly independent rocket industry, which has now changed to the development and creative industry” by Korean Central News Agency, have commented that Kim Jong Un has no concern for their dwindling food supply and daily struggles.
“There are an increasing number of people who are suffering from malnutrition in agricultural regions such as Pochon County, Kapsan County, and Samsoo County. People in these rural areas resent the fact that there aren’t enough potatoes to feed the people, yet the government is obsessed with missiles. What difference in our lives will launching a missile make?” a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK on March 21.
“Even ordinary people understand that the price of a missile is enough to feed the whole population for several months. So every time the regime conducts a nuclear test or missile launch, many become infuriated at the waste of money, equivalent to hundreds of thousands of tons of food.”
“The residents were especially outraged to see Kim Jong Un beaming while watching the test (on March 18). He seems to be satisfied even though he spent money that could have been used to save starving people,” noted a separate source in Ryanggang Province.
The North Korean authorities, who have recently responded to increasing pressure from the US and South Korea with the missile engine test, are reportedly emphasizing the need to strengthen the national defense forces, saying that the missile launch is for “enhancing self-defense capabilities,” during recent lectures.
“The lectures are all delivered by low-level (primary) Party chairmen and they keep emphasizing that the country will not be able to maintain peace and sustainability if self-defense is not strengthened and the population does not suffer for that ultimate goal,” he said.
“The authorities claim that we are a proud nuclear power and that no country can challenge us. But it is demoralizing and exhausting that [the regime] won’t recognize that ordinary people just want a better quality of life, not more missiles.”