North Korea, long better at making myths than making rockets, on Friday tried for the third time to blast a satellite into orbit. The mission failed after about 90 seconds, U.S. officials say, with pieces of the device dropping into the sea.Holy carp! Just what the heck is going on up there? Seriously, this seems like it could be a game-changer. During those four hours, someone high up made the conscious decision to forgo the perpetual hagiography and myth building and just say, "Look, we mucked up royally."
But this time, unlike after previous failures, North Korea didn’t manufacture a tale about a technological triumph and a satellite spinning around the globe. Roughly four hours after the Unha-3 rocket fell apart, Pyongyang’s state-run news agency released a brief statement saying that the “earth observation satellite failed to enter its preset orbit.” A news anchorwoman then read the statement on domestic television.
“Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure,” the broadcaster told viewers.
The North’s admission marked a surprising reversal of the usual national narrative, which portrays a self-reliant country that thwarts larger imperialist powers with its military and technological might. It also threatened to turn a celebratory week into a humiliating one: Pyongyang’s leaders had planned the rocket launch as a showcase for the 100th birthday party of late leader Kim Il Sung.
Why they are doing this is anybody's guess, but my hope of hopes is that we may actually be seeing a change in the regime, where a Western-educated kid is now in power and sees how screwed up things are and wants to see a change. Maybe the "North Korea's Gorvachev and/or Deng" moniker will be appropriate after all.
Wow. Just wow.
In another post inspired by this one, I explored whether this admission to the people a sign that North Korea is ready for perestroika and glasnost.