Meet The Team Building North Korea's Nuclear Missiles

In recent years, North Korea has frustrated the US intelligence community, which has struggled to determine exactly how Kim Jong Un and his regime have managed to make so much progress, so quickly in their quest to develop a nuclear weapon capable of striking the Continental US.

The international community has authorized one round of sanctions after another, and yet they appear to have little impact on the country’s economy. If anything, these efforts have only served to strengthen the Kim’s grip on power by feeding the narrative - taught to every North Korean child - that the US is an evil, imperialist antagonist bent on subjugating the North.

While the exact means by which the North has managed to survive such immense international pressure remain a mystery, the New York Times has a theory: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has cultivated an aura of reverence and celebrity around the country’s nuclear scientists.

These celebrity scientists are known by nicknames like the “nuclear duo” and the “missile quartet”.

They also occupy a unique place in the North Korea power structure: While Kim, 33, has executed scores of senior officials - including his own uncle - he has turned the scientists into public heros. So far, not one nuclear scientist has been punished by the regime.

“We have never heard of him killing scientists,” said Choi Hyun-kyoo, a senior researcher in South Korea who runs NK Tech, a database of North Korean scientific publications. “He is someone who understands that trial and error are part of doing science."

As a result of this, each of the six nuclear tests conducted since 2006 has been more powerful than the last, an incredible feat of engineering, considering the restraints.

Kim has elevated science as an ideal in the regime’s propaganda and put his fondness for scientists and engineers on prominent display across North Korea.

One of the carrots Kim has offered his prized scientists is a street called “Future Scientists Street”. Opened four years after Kim assumed power in 2011, the street is reportedly filled with gleaming towers for scientists, engineers and their families.

Kim also opened a sprawling complex shaped like an atom that showcases the nation’s achievements in nuclear science, and where decadent galas are held to celebrate the nuclear program’s progress.

There is little doubt what is behind Mr. Kim’s passion for science. In ubiquitous propaganda posters, North Korean rockets soar into space and crash into the United States Capitol.

After successful tests, scientists and engineers are honored with huge outdoor rallies.

While international sanctions prohibit the teaching of science with potential military applications to North Korean students, the regime has hit upon several clever strategies to import nuclear research from the outside world.

Also, the country still manages to send talented students abroad to study science in places like China, India and even Germany.

Kim wasn’t the first North Korean leader to adopt these special privileges for scientists. Indeed, his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, embraced science as he struggled to rebuild North Korea from the ruins of the Korean War. He embraced those trained in Japan when Korea was a Japanese colony and later sent hundreds of students to the Soviet Union, East Germany and other socialist states.

One of them was So Sang-guk, a nuclear scientist who emerged as a key figure in the nation’s nuclear program but seems to have retired.

However, since taking power, Kim Jong-un appears to have overseen a generational shift at the top of the weapons program, elevating a group of scientists and officials about whom little is known.

But now, analysts have identified six figures who have repeatedly appeared alongside Mr. Kim at key moments - four tied to missile development and two associated with nuclear tests.

Two members of the “missile quartet” are scientists, according to state media. Jang Chang-ha is 53 and president of the Academy of National Defense Science, and Jon Il-ho, 61, is commonly described as an “official in the field of scientific research.”

Ri Pyong-chol appears to be the quartet’s highest-ranking member. A former air force commander, he serves as first deputy director of the ruling Workers’ Party’s munitions industry department.

Kim Jong-sik, 49, first began appearing with Kim Jong-un in February 2016 and has an engineering background. His rise has coincided with an acceleration of test launches, but he and Ri did not attend last month’s launch.

Ri Hong-sop is the director of North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Institute. He appears to be a key figure in the nuclear program.  

Hong Sung-mu, the other member of the “nuclear duo,” is a former chief engineer at the Yongbyon nuclear complex, the birthplace of the North’s nuclear weapons program.

But in perhaps one of the most significant trappings of the scientists’ status in North Korean society is the picture below, where several scientists can be seen sharing a cigarette with Kim - a major privilege considering Kim is revered like a God in North Korea.

After successful tests, sometimes Kim will even embrace his scientists, some of whom can be seen weeping. In another stunning image, Kim can be seen carrying one of the scientists on his back - a play on an old Korean tradition.

North Korea carried out its most powerful nuclear test yet back in September when it detonated what was estimated to be a 300 kiloton bomb. Despite indications that the North’s longtime test site at Punggye-ri is suffering from “tired mountain syndrome”, satellite imaging recently showed the North’s military is hard at work on a new tunnel located in a remote area of the test site...

...Suggesting that the North is already preparing to carry out what would be its seventh nuclear test.


shitshitshit ebworthen Sun, 12/17/2017 - 23:25 Permalink

We've seen this nuclear scientists slaughter occurring in Iran already, courtesy mossad. All in one designing a nuclear weapon is not overly difficult. It is calculating and simulating the geometry that eats up resources. Hence the biggest assets here are the computer codes used to design nukes as well as the launcher. ...Last but not least I believe Kim has already made everything possible to ramp up a whole generation of nuclear and rocket scientists in order to cover for potential losses. Old engineers may be disposable, but  neither the new generation nor the result of their work should be. Perpetuation and transmission of knowledge are what's the most important. 

In reply to by ebworthen

DieselChadron shitshitshit Sun, 12/17/2017 - 23:53 Permalink

LOLOLOL.  Was this an onion piece??I can't believe you guys actually believe this shit.  So, N Korea has 36 websites... and nuclear weapons.  Riiiiight.Spoiler (for those who can't figure these sorts of things out):  some rogue actors in a "first world" nation - or possibly major religion - are giving N Korea this technology.Spoiler 2.0: they also gave weapons to daesh (aka "Isil")

In reply to by shitshitshit

shitshitshit DieselChadron Mon, 12/18/2017 - 00:23 Permalink

Germany and USA were racing to build the first atomic bomb before any internet was in sight. Why do you think the number of websites of this country is relevant? I would think it would be a proof they have less distractions, therefore they can focus more on productive work. But anyway you made a valid point with foreign knowledge and/or devices transfer. 

In reply to by DieselChadron

neversink shitshitshit Mon, 12/18/2017 - 01:58 Permalink

And Japan had three on-going nuclear weapons projects. They were going to test one less than a week before the US hit them with an atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.The widow of the the head nuclear physicist for Japan during WWII stated that if the US had not dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there is no doubt in her mind that the Japanese would have used nuclear weapons without hesitation from the Asia Pacific nations to the US mainland. She stated the world was lucky that the US got the atomic bomb first.End of Story, beginning of the nuclear era and stupid and naive politicians.

In reply to by shitshitshit

Colonel Shitze… DieselChadron Mon, 12/18/2017 - 03:17 Permalink

Websites, uhmkaay, A.Q. Khan. They coulda been using Missile Command on Atari 2600 for their fuggin command & control before Khan rolled into town, & it wouldn’t have mattered. If u got enough pesos, Khan gon hook u up brudda. Oh Kim Johnny’s got em alright. He sleeps with one leg astride an 8’ tac nuke in his bed & has thermonuclear cream dreams.

In reply to by DieselChadron

Stan522 Stan522 Mon, 12/18/2017 - 09:58 Permalink

Insane Libs are applying your insanity in the form of moral relativism. There's evil in this world and you shits support it. Yes we have a share of it but there is no comparison between the NORK's and the the United States. Your form of liberalism degrades our freedoms..... 

In reply to by Stan522

BlindMonkey Sun, 12/17/2017 - 23:01 Permalink

" these efforts have only served to strengthen the Kim’s grip on power by feeding the narrative - taught to every North Korean child - that the US is an evil, imperialist antagonist bent on subjugating the North." The NorKs may be savage ass holes but they aren't wrong here. 

xrxs Sun, 12/17/2017 - 23:04 Permalink

AQ Khan has become Death, destroyer of worlds.  These guys seem to have a higher life expectancy vs. their Iranian counterparts.

Implied Violins Sun, 12/17/2017 - 23:07 Permalink

Jang Chang-ha, of Rolling Heights, plays the part of 'Chief Scientist' and rents out a garage apartment to an ISIS video team.

Jon Il-ho, the elder statesmen, played bit parts as a North Korean soldier in several MASH episodes. He lives in Huntington Park.

Ri Pyong-chol, currently staying in a shelter near Universal Studios as his Ventura apartment has burned to the ground, plays the part of an ex-military aide and is rumored to be currently dating Jackie Chan.

Kim Jong-sik, of West LA, is the most photogenic of the bunch and he does a lot of editing of the group's videos.

Ri Hong-sop, of Pasadena, has an extensive collection of nuclear blast videos from around the world that he incorporates expertly into the videos to give them that extra "umph" of believability.

Hong Sung-mu, of Bel Air, had to evacuate due to the fires and is now staying with the chief ISIS videographer in East LA.

The others are all extras chosen from a pool that gathers routinely now at the former offices of Harvey Weinstein while he is 'out of town'.

Hillarys Server Sun, 12/17/2017 - 23:19 Permalink

" feeding the narrative - taught to every North Korean child - that the US is an evil, imperialist antagonist bent on subjugating the North"That's a "narrative"?

King of Ruperts Land Sun, 12/17/2017 - 23:21 Permalink

The west is fucked. We need to slap down the turd shit that has risen like a scum. We need most of the top and middle echelons plowed six feet under or we are doomed.

Fuck you western so called "leaders" and powers that be. Political correctness and many of its staunchest adherents must die, or we are all doomed.

I love your wife Sun, 12/17/2017 - 23:23 Permalink

As fucked up as it sounds, it's pretty impressive that they are doing what they are doing under the circumstances.  I don't condone it though.  Kind of falls under the "Hitler was a great speaker" category.

zimboe I love your wife Mon, 12/18/2017 - 01:33 Permalink

I hear tell some people think old Funny Mustache wasn't a very nice guy.But he loved his dog, so there's musta been a speck of good in him.And it's not a Hilter mustache, it's a Chaplin mustache, dammit....At least the Nazzys had the minute sliver of decency to actually kill those people before burning them to ash.Unlike ISIS, who often murder in the cruelest means they can devise. Gradually sawing a living man's head off with a goddam dull steak knife comes to mind.Even a Nazi wouldn't stoop to that I thinx, 'cause it would be dishonourable....Major premise: Nukes were invented with Nazis in mind.Minor premise: Isis ragtops are worse than Nazis.Conclusion: Bathe the Muzzies in cleansing instant sunshine....And don't tell them about SkilSaws. Or the Milwaukee Sawzall.Please. 

In reply to by I love your wife

caconhma Sun, 12/17/2017 - 23:34 Permalink

The same was with Joe Stalin. After the WWII, STALIN CONDUCTED ENDLESS PURGES AND EXECUTIONS but top nuclear and missiles scientist were untouchable. These people had the Soviet superstar status with huge pay, privileges, and social status.

The story goes that once Beria (the Chief of Soviet Secret police) called Kurchatov (the Chief nuclear weapon designer) to his office. Beria showed Kurchatov a huge stack of documents and told that these were reports on nuclear scientists accusing them of anti-Soviet activities. Kurchatov replied: "Comrade, please make your mind either you want to execute our scientists and kill our nuclear weapon program or you want nukes for comrade Stalin?"

The next day, Beria drove to the Soviet nuclear development center and called an all-hands meeting. Beria personally assured scientists and engineers that no one of them and/or members of there families would be arrested, tortured or executed.

The rest is well known: Soviets caught America in the nuclear weapons development and Soviets were the leaders in ICBM development launching the first Earth satellite called Sputnik and put the first man in Space.

Under Prostitutin, today Russia has no high-class weapon designers. Russia's ICBM's are 50-year-old and their nukes are unreliable.

Not My Real Name caconhma Mon, 12/18/2017 - 00:03 Permalink

Although not as accurate, both Russia and China's land based ICBMs are more modern than anything the US has (see the Topol system, which was fielded at the turn of this century; and China's DF-5 and DF31 were both fielded after 2000). The US Minuteman III system was put into service almost 50 years ago. It's silos and infrastructure are the same infrastructure used for Minuteman I whose IOC was in the early 1960s. The Minuteman replacement program (Ground Based Strategic Deterrent) is still a couple of years away from the EMD phase and won't be fielded until 2030 timeframe.

In reply to by caconhma