Friday, April 13, 2012

Is North Korea an episode of "Mythbusters"?

I'd been avoiding writing about the launch, or writing about the writing about the launch, but when it seemed imminent, I was all set to do a post on the over-under for what might happen. This might include such possibilities as...
  • It flies a perfect trajectory between South Korea and China, landing as predicted in waters off the Philippines. 
  • It heads over the territory of South Korea or Japan and is shot down.
  • It heads over the territory of South Korea or Japan and the president says "next time, we'll shoot it down."
  • It hits an airplane on the way up or the way down. 
  • It hits a flock of birds on the way up or the way down.
  • It fizzles shortly after leaving the launchpad.
  • It fizzles shortly after leaving the launchpad and crashes into the Western propaganda stooges below.
  • It crashes into Tokyo, pissing off the Japanese government, resulting in pressure to convert Self-Defense Forces into full-blown military.
  • Guided by karma, it goes off course and heads for Hawaii, punishment for the callous remark I made about the Western propaganda stooges. 
  • It crash-lands in South Korea, and netizens claim it was all made up by the Lee Myungbak administration.
  • It crashes into the undersea caldera of some volcano off the coast of Japan, awakening Godzilla or some similar creature, resulting in pressure to convert Self-Defense Forces into full-blown military.
These would have been gentlemen's bets, of course (though they would be open to ladies and English teachers). 

Well, I took too long to set all that up, and now it turns out the they've launched it. And according to US officials monitoring the event, it fizzled shortly after leaving the launchpad. Okay, who had "fizzled"? Congratulations! You win an internship with Captain Obvious. 

Anyway, as we saw report after report (it was covered prodigiously on NBC, ABC, and CNN, not to mention AP) of the set up and the "satellite" and we heard from the engineers talking about what it's supposed to do, and we had all those cameras recording every minute and minutiae, I couldn't help but thinking: This is an episode of Mythbusters

If you haven't seen the show, I'll describe it succinctly: It's about two nerds and their crew of nerds who like to shoot things in the air and blow stuff up. Really, the entire Pyongyang regime is Mythbusters

And what they've proven in this episode is that North Korea is most definitely not ready for prime time, at least when it comes to rockets and missiles. 

Sure, they'll say it was a success, and no doubt all the workers at People's Photoshop Manipulation Facility #4 and Workers Artist Rendition Production Facility #2 and #7 will be hard at work producing the pictures of North Korea from space that the satellite was supposed to be beaming down to a beaming Kim Jong-un. But the inner circle and the elite will know the truth, and this is a terrible disappointment. Heads will roll (literally).

And that's a good thing (except for any punitive executions). Because I imagine that among the factions (and even within various groups), there is real soul-searching about what direction to go in, and now they realize they can't keep putting all their eggs into the scare-the-sh¡t-out-of-the-neighbors-to-wrest-concessions-from-them basket. On the other hand, China's offering to teach us how to convert the economy in such a way that the privileged end up filthy rich, so maybe we try that direction for a while. 

Oh, God. That sounded more depressing than I'd first intended, but it is a better choice than the status quo. 

Kim Jong-un, old buddy, take notice of what happened. This failure to reach orbit is an opportunity, not a setback. Let's talk; you know how to reach me. 



  1. Cheer up, Kushibo. The North Korean system could never survive Chinese-style reforms, and I suspect they've already gone too far in that direction to turn back. It's only a matter of time.

    You should host another one of these friendly wagers with all of the possible regime endgame scenarios you can dream up.

  2. That's a good idea. I think I shall.

    Indeed, the DPRK could be in its final stages. If television has taught us anything, it's that a show has jumped the shark when they cast some unknown kid in a central role.


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