Space Program of North Korea

------The North Korean Space Agency------

North Korea's Level = 3 (owns ICBM's)        HDI: Low



North Korea has a secretively guarded space agency


History and Infrastructure

There has been one controversial N. Korean launch


Space-Industrial Complex

North Korea has unknown amounts of activity


Launchers and Satellites

N. Korea has no satellites but a possible launcher



There are plans for offensive application

Population: 22,500,000 / Language: Korean / GDP: $1800 / Cities: Pyongyang

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(Level 3 Space Agency)



On the traditional scale, North Korea would be a Level 3 space power, no matter what kind of alternative university-like, space research office-like and agency-like institutions it actually has, because it owns Intercontinnental Ballistic Missiles. But does it have a Space Agency? North Korea's space activity is closely guarded and not much is known with certainty. The country is militarily strong but is troubled by poverty and occasional hunger. It is completely directed by the Great Leader Kim Jong Il, who holds the titles of 'Chairman of the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea,' 'Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army,' and 'General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea.' The North Korean Pyongyang University of Science and Technology will offer a degree in engineering and physics and possibly astronautics and advanced aeronautics, used to engineer more advanced rockets. This is only speculation however, the university is not fully operational yet. The government has an unknown involvement in the development of space related industries. NK's first ICBM, 'Taepo Dong' was successfully launched in 1998 over Japan and into the Pacific. This technology could be used in launching objects into space- which was in fact attempted in September of 1998, which would move North Korea to a Level 5 Space Power, had it been successful. Please see Satellites.








Musudan-ri (the place the satellite was said to have lifted off from)


Taepo Dong-1 (In Development)


Kwangmyongsong-1 (possibly penetrated the atmosphere for a few minutes before returning)











North Korea: In Brief



For decades North Korea has been one of the world's most secretive societies. It is one of the few countries still under communist rule.

Hopes that its rigid isolation might have been coming to an end have been scotched by an ongoing nuclear crisis.

North Korea emerged in 1948 amid the chaos following the end of World War II. Its history is dominated by its Great Leader, Kim Il-sung, who shaped political affairs for almost half a century.


After the Korean War, Kim Il-sung introduced the personal philosophy of Juche, or self-reliance, which became a guiding light for North Korea's development. Kim Il-sung's son, Kim Jong-il, is now head of state, but the post of president has been assigned "eternally" to his late father.

Decades of this rigid state-controlled system have led to stagnation and a leadership dependent on the cult of personality.

Politics: Supreme leader Kim Jong-il heads a secretive, communist regime which tolerates no dissent

Economy: North Korea's command economy is dilapidated, hit by natural disasters, poor planning and a failure to modernise

International: With its nuclear ambitions, North Korea presents a serious challenge to those trying to rein it in; the two Koreas are still technically at war

Aid agencies have estimated that up to two million people have died since the mid-1990s because of acute food shortages caused by natural disasters and economic mismanagement. The country relies on foreign aid to feed millions of its people.

The totalitarian state also stands accused of systematic human rights abuses. Reports of torture, public executions, slave labour, and forced abortions and infanticides in prison camps have emerged. A US-based rights group has estimated that there are up to 200,000 political prisoners in North Korea.

Pyongyang has accused successive South Korean governments of being US "puppets", but South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's visit in 2000 signalled a thaw in relations. Seoul's "sunshine policy" towards the north aimed to encourage change through dialogue and aid.

But this tentative reaching-out to the world was dealt a blow in 2002 by Pyongyang's decision to reactivate a nuclear reactor and to expel international inspectors. The country is said to have a handful of nuclear weapons and a uranium enrichment programme. It has declared itself a nuclear power and has an active missile programme.

In October 2006 North Korea said it successfully tested a nuclear weapon, spreading alarm around the region.

Diplomatic efforts have so far failed to rein in North Korea's nuclear ambitions and US President George W Bush has named it as part of an "axis of evil".

North Korea maintains one of the world's largest standing armies and militarism pervades everyday life. But standards of training, discipline and equipment in the force are said to be low.


Full name: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea



Eternal president: Kim Il-sung (deceased)

Chairman, National Defence Commission: Kim Jong-il

Beyond the elaborate personality cult through which he rules, little is known about Kim Jong-il's character.

He is rarely photographed and is almost never heard in radio and TV broadcasts.

After the death of Kim Il-sung in 1994, Kim Jong-il did not immediately assume his father's titles; there were reports that Kim Il-sung's first choice as successor was the younger brother, Kim Yong-ju. Kim Jong-il eventually became head of the Korean Workers' Party in 1997.

He is credited with writing six operas in two years, and with personally designing the huge Juche tower in Pyongyang.

In recent years he has met several world leaders, including the South Korean president and the Japanese prime minister. He has attended summits in Moscow and Beijing.

Mr Kim is sometimes caricatured as a reclusive playboy with bouffant hair, platform shoes and a taste for cognac.

There has been speculation about his health. Mr Kim is said to have gastric problems arising from his love of spicy food. Other reports suggest that he has liver problems. North Korea watchers believe that one of Mr Kim's three sons will become the dictator's anointed heir.

Kim Jong-il was born in Siberia in 1941 during his father's period of exile in the former Soviet Union.

But official North Korean accounts say he was born in a log cabin at his father's guerrilla base on the country's highest mountain - an event marked by a double rainbow and a new star in the sky.

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North Korea: In Depth





In the aftermath of the Japanese occupation of Korea, which ended with Japan's defeat in World War II in 1945, Korea was divided in two along the 38th parallel. The Soviet Union controlled the area to the north of this line and the United States controlled the area to the south. The Korean people were not consulted by either power prior to this division. While virtually all Koreans welcomed liberation from Japanese imperial rule, they objected to the re-imposition of foreign rule over the peninsula. The Soviets and Americans were unable to agree on the implementation of Joint Trusteeship over Korea. This led in 1948 to the establishment of separate governments in the north and south, each claiming to be the legitimate government of all of Korea.[citation needed]

Growing tensions and border skirmishes between the north and south eventually led to a civil war called the Korean War. On June 25, 1950 the (North) Korean People's Army attacked across the 38th Parallel in a move to reunify the peninsula under their political system. The war continued until July 27, 1953, when the United Nations Command, the Korean People's Army, and the Chinese People's Volunteers signed the Korean War Armistice Agreement.[1] The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) has separated the North and South ever since.

North Korea was led by Kim Il-sung from 1948 until his death on July 8, 1994. Toward the end of his life, Kim Il-sung delegated most domestic matters to his son, Kim Jong-il. Three years after his father's death, on October 8, 1997, Kim Jong-il was named General Secretary of the Korean Workers' Party.[2][3] In 1998, the legislature reconfirmed him as Chairman of the National Defence Commission and declared that position as the "highest office of state".[4] International relations generally improved, and there was a historic North-South summit between the two Koreas in June 2000. However, tensions with the United States have increased since that time as North Korea resumed its nuclear weapons program. Following a series of missile tests in July 2006 and a nuclear test in October 2006, the United Nations imposed sanctions on North Korea. On October 31, 2006, however, the country agreed to return to six-party talks.

In the aftermath of the Korean War and throughout the 1960s and '70s, the country's economy grew at a significant rate and, until the late 1970s, was considered to be stronger than that in the South. However, under Kim Jong-il's rule in the mid-to-late 1990s, the country's economy declined significantly, and food shortages developed in many areas. According to aid groups, millions of people in rural areas starved to death due to famine, exacerbated by a collapse in the food distribution system and lack of support from former communist-bloc countries. [5] Large numbers of North Koreans illegally entered the People's Republic of China in search of food. The only direct challenge by its people against the North Korean government took place in 1995 in Hamhung, a city in the South Hamgyong province. Famine-starved soldiers attempted to march onto the capital, Pyongyang. The revolt was quelled, though, and the unit shortly thereafter disbanded. Hwang Jang-yop, International Secretary of the Korean Workers' Party, defected to South Korea in 1997. The food situation has somewhat improved in recent years, due in part to small-scale market reforms and private ownership.[citation needed]

In August 2006, North Korea declared the armistice that ended the 1950-1953 Korean War "null and void."[6][7][8]

Government and politics

North Korea is officially described as a socialist republic governed according to the ideology of Juche (loosely, "self-reliance"). Kim Il-Sung, the founder of North Korea, was the country's first and only president; in the North Korean constitution he is described as the Eternal President of the Republic: "The DPRK and the entire Korean people will uphold the great leader Comrade Kim Il-sung as the eternal President of the Republic." [3]

The de facto head of state and government is Kim Jong-Il, who is Chairman of the National Defence Commission. The legislature of North Korea is the Supreme People's Assembly, or SPA; the current President of the SPA is Kim Yong Nam. The other senior government leader is the Premier, currently Pak Pong-ju.

North Korea is a single-party state. The governing party is the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, a coalition made up of three smaller parties, the Workers Party of Korea, the Korean Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party. These parties nominate all candidates for office and hold all seats in the Supreme People's Assembly.

Foreign relations

North Korea's relations with the United States are often regarded as tense and unpredictable. Since the cease fire of the Korean War in 1953, the North Korean government has been at odds with the United States, Japan and South Korea; it is still technically at war with South Korea. Since 2000 its relations with the U.S. have greatly deteriorated, and it was called a part of the "axis of evil" and an "outpost of tyranny" by U.S. President George W. Bush stating "States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic."

North Korea does not have diplomatic relations with the US at present. North Korea has maintained close relations with the People's Republic of China and Russian Federation. The fall of communism in eastern Europe in 1989 and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 resulted in a significant drop in aid to North Korea from Russia, although China continues to provide substantial assistance. The DPRK continues to have strong ties with its socialist Asian allies in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.[9]

North and South Korea are still technically at war, and there is still significant hostility between the citizens of both North and South Korea. Both the North and South Korean governments proclaim that they are seeking eventual reunification as a goal. North Korea's policy is to seek reunification without what it sees as outside interference, through a federal structure retaining each side's leadership and systems. Both North and South Korea signed the June 15th North-South Joint Declaration in which both sides made promises to seek out a peaceful reunification.[10]

Due to its political ties with the U.S. and the U.K. [citation needed], Australia sometimes has a tense relationship with North Korea, and the media occasionally report on the ability of North Korea's missiles to reach mainland Australia. Despite this, relations are otherwise allegedly good and where applicable, travel in and out of North Korea by Australian subjects is reportedly not difficult [citation needed].

North Korea is a member of several multilateral organizations. It became a member of the United Nations in September 1991. North Korea also belongs to the Food and Agriculture Organization; the International Civil Aviation Organization; the International Postal Union; the UN Conference on Trade and Development; the ITU; the UN Development Programme; the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization; the World Health Organization; the World Intellectual Property Organization; the World Meteorological Organization; the International Maritime Organization; the International Committee of the Red Cross; and the Nonaligned Movement.

The highest level contact with the American government was Madeleine Albright's 2000 visit to Pyongyang. However, the U.S. and North Korea do not have formal diplomatic relations. [11] As of 2006 approximately 37,000 American soldiers remain in South Korea, with plans to reduce this number to 25,000 by 2008. North Korea considers the U.S. presence aggressive and a means of preventing north/south reconciliation.[12][13][14]


According to Western estimates [15], North Korea has the fifth-largest military in the world, with the largest percentage of citizens enlisted (49.03 active troops per thousand citizens). The North has an estimated 1.08 million armed personnel, compared with about 686,000 South Korean troops (and 3.5 million paramilitary forces). Annual military spending is about $5 billion USD.[16] There is a fairly efficient, albeit technologically obsolete, weapons and munitions industry[citation needed]. North Korea has perhaps the world's second-largest special operations force (roughly 110,000), designed for insertion and sabotage behind enemy lines in wartime[citation needed]. While the North has an adequate fleet of submarines and small vessels, its main surface fleet has a very limited capability[citation needed].

Air force

As of 1992, the North Korean Air Force comprised about 1,620 aircraft and 70,000 personnel, with roughly twice the number of aircraft as the South. Most of its aircraft are obsolete Soviet models and Chinese copies, but it has been modernizing since the 1980s. Aircraft holdings include 190 MiG-21s, thirty MiG-29s, sixty MiG-23s, forty Q-5 Fantans, plus an additional 250 or so of older MiG-19s, MiG-17s and Su-7s. Since the 1980s, the air force has expanded its inventory of helicopters from 40 to 275. This inventory includes Mi-24s, Mi-2s, Mi-4s, and Mi-8s. In 1985, the DPRK circumvented U.S. export controls to buy eighty-seven U.S.-manufactured civilian Hughes H-6 model helicopters, which are more advanced than the Russian models and have probably been armed with guns and rockets. North Korea does not manufacture its own aircraft, but it does produce spare parts. The air defense is also equipped with old Soviet SAMs, including many batteries of SA-2s, SA-3s and SA-5s. An assesment by US analysts is that the air force "has a marginal capability for defending North Korean airspace and a limited ability to conduct air operations against South Korea."[17]


It also has a certain quantity of Rodong-1 and 2, Scud, and the long-range Taepodong-1 and 2 missiles, the second of which has a range of up to 6,000 kilometers, although it is doubtful that the latter type is in full service yet[citation needed]. It has test-fired each of these missiles more than once, despite the Six-party talks, initiated in 2003. On July 5, 2006, North Korea conducted a series of seven test launches [18], including short-range Nodong-2 missiles and one long-range intercontinental Taepodong-2 missile.[19] During the July 5, 2006, launches, the Taepodong-2 missile failed within 2 minutes of lift-off and crashed into the ocean. As of October 2006, there are doubts as to the capability of North Korea to deliver any payload the full 6,000 kilometers range claimed for the Taepodong-2.

Nuclear weapons program

North Korea announces it has conducted a successful nuclear test

On October 9, 2006, North Korea announced that it had conducted its first nuclear test, which was confirmed by the United States on October 16, 2006.[20]. The blast was less than one kiloton, smaller than expected, and U.S. officials initially suggested that it may have been an unsuccessful test or a partially successful fizzle[21] (for yield comparisons, see Nuclear artillery). China was given twenty minutes' notice of the test; it subsequently warned Japan, Russia, and the United States. The seismic strength of the test was reported slightly differently by two agencies; the United States Geological Survey measured it as 4.2 on the Richter scale, while South Korean scientists placed it as 3.58. Both China and the United States reported finding radioactive traces in air samples taken from the region in the week following the test.

North Korea has in the past stated that it has produced nuclear weapons and according to many intelligence and military officials it has produced, or has the capability to produce, up to six or seven such devices[citation needed].

Nuclear weapons delivery

As of October 2006, there are doubts as to North Korea's capability to deliver a nuclear warhead by any means, either by affixing to a missile or other nuclear weapons delivery system, with the exception of an aircraft, which would be monitored, or other bulk transport like cargo[22].

Six-party talks

The Six-party talks have been the diplomatic route used to resolve the concern brought about by North Korea's nuclear weapons program. These talks are a series of meetings with six participating states (the People's Republic of China, South Korea, North Korea, the United States of America, the Russian Federation and Japan) and were a result of North Korea withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003. The aim of these talks is to find a peaceful resolution to the security concerns raised by the North Korean nuclear weapons program.

According to Richard Saccone, an expert on Korea, in April 2006: "After decades of hostile exchanges and months of stalled negotiations about its nuclear weapons, North Korea quietly put forward a positive signal that it is prepared to talk." [23]

North Korea is not a signatory of the Missile Technology Control Regime and states that it has the sovereign right to test its missiles and pursue its weapons program. The DPRK's stance on the 2002 Pyongyang Declaration with Japan is that the agreement is now void due to Japan's failure to normalize relations with the regime. US sanctions following the six-party talks are also cited by North Korea as a reason to continue missile tests and other aspects of its weapons program.[24]

North Korea announced on October 3, 2006, that it was going to test its first nuclear weapon regardless of the world situation, blaming "hostile US policy" as the reason for the need for such a deterrent. However, it pledged a no-first-strike policy and to nuclear disarmament only when there is worldwide elimination of such nuclear weapons. On October 9, 2006, the state claimed to have conducted its first underground nuclear test successfully. The response from the international community was for the most part condemnation. The UN and NATO quickly held meetings to decide how to react to this situation, and North Korea has since stated that any sanctions imposed upon them will be viewed as an 'act of war'. While many analysts continue to stress the importance of China as a principal actor in resolving the nuclear stand-off with North Korea, some have parted with that analysis and suggested China has consistently failed to exercise influence over the regime.[25]

On November 3, 2006, North Korea confirmed it would return to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks after a year-long boycott. The chief US envoy stressed that the world needed to see progress at the next round. North Korea apparently came to this decision on the premise that the issue of lifting financial sanctions will be discussed and settled between North Korea and the United States. World leaders welcomed its decision to rejoin the talks, which it had boycotted since November 2005 in protest of US financial sanctions, but the breakthrough was also accompanied by some skepticism.[26]

Human rights

Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, including the North American Free Speech Association, accuse North Korea of having one of the worst human rights records of any nation, severely restricting most freedoms, including freedom of speech and freedom of movement, both inside the country and abroad. The State of World Liberty Index ranks North Korea last out of 159 countries in terms of citizens' freedom.

North Korean exiles have testified as to the existence of detention camps with an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 inmates, and have reported torture, starvation, rape, murder and forced labour.[4][5] Japanese television aired what it said was footage of a prison camp [6]. In some of the camps, US officials and former inmates say the annual mortality rate approaches 20% to 25% [7]. An estimated two million civilians have been killed by the government[27] A former prison guard and army intelligence officer said that in one camp, chemical weapons were tested on prisoners in a gas chamber [8]. According to a former prisoner, pregnant women inside the camps are often forced to have abortions or the newborn child is killed [9]. The people of North Korea have also been implicated in terrorist attacks in South Korea, [28] (Wahn Kihl 1983: 106) as well as assassinations of dissidents in nearby states.[29] . The government of North Korea has not replied to any these accusations, but it refuses to admit independent human rights observers to the state.[citation needed]


North Korea is on the northern portion of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea shares land borders with China and Russia to the north, and with South Korea to the south. To its west are the Yellow Sea and Korea Bay, and to its east is the Sea of Japan (East Sea of Korea). Japan lies east of the peninsula across the Sea of Japan.

The highest point in Korea is the Paektu-san at 2,744 metres (9,003 ft), and major rivers include the Tumen and the Yalu.[30]

The local climate is relatively temperate, with precipitation heavier in summer during a short rainy season called changma, and winters that can be bitterly cold on occasion.[31] The DPRK's capital and largest city is P'yongyang; other major cities include Kaesong in the south, Sinuiju in the northwest, Wonsan and Hamhung in the east and Ch'ongjin in the northeast.


North Korea's socialist economy has been mostly stagnant since the 1970s. State-owned industry produces nearly all manufactured goods. The government focuses on heavy military industry, with an estimated 13% of the nation's GDP being spent on the military as of 2005. [10] By comparison, neighbouring South Korea spent 2.5% of GDP on its military[citation needed] (in addition to the 30,000 American soldiers stationed there).[32] The government does not release economic data.

In the 1990s North Korea faced significant economic disruptions, including a series of natural disasters, economic mismanagement, serious fertilizer shortages, and the collapse of the Soviet bloc. These resulted in a shortfall of staple grain output of more than 1 million tons from what the country needs to meet internationally-accepted minimum dietary requirements. [11] The resulting famine killed between 600,000 and 3.5 million people in North Korea during the 1990s. [12] By 1999 foreign aid reduced the number of famine deaths, but North Korea's continuing nuclear program led to a decline in international food and development aid. In the spring of 2005, the World Food Program reported that famine conditions were in imminent danger of returning to North Korea, and the government was reported to have mobilized millions of city-dwellers to help rice farmers.[13] [14] Approximately 92% of 577,000 tons of food aid donated by China in 2005 was to North Korea, making up 49% of the food aid North Korea receives. South Korea was the second biggest donor to North Korea in 2005, contributing 36% on top of China's 49%. In spite of these donations over 22% of the population of North Korea is classified as malnourished and recent evidence suggests serious food shortages continue.[15]

North Korea has previously received international food and fuel aid from China, South Korea, and the United States in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program. In June 2005, the U.S. announced that it would give 50,000 metric tons of food aid to North Korea. [16] The United States gave North Korea 50,000 tons in 2004 and 100,000 tons in 2003. [17] On 19 September 2005, North Korea was promised food and fuel aid (among other things) from South Korea, the U.S., Japan, Russia, and China in exchange for abandoning its nuclear weapons program and rejoining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In July 2002, North Korea started experimenting with capitalism in the Kaesong Industrial Region. [18] A small number of other areas have been designated as Special Administrative Regions, including Sinuiju along the China-North Korea border. China and South Korea are the biggest trade partners of North Korea, with trade with China increasing 38% to $1.02 billion in 2003, and trade with South Korea increasing 12% to $724 million in 2003.[citation needed] It is reported that the number of mobile phones in P'yongyang rose from only 3,000 in 2002 to approximately 20,000 during 2004.[19] As of June 2004, however, mobile phones became forbidden again.[20] A small amount of capitalistic elements are gradually spreading from the trial area, including a number of advertising billboards along certain highways. Recent visitors have reported that the number of open-air farmers' markets has increased in Kaesong, P'yongyang, as well as along the China-North Korea border, bypassing the food rationing system.

According to the Ministry of Unification of South Korea, the GDP grew by 6.2% in 1999, but only 1.3% in 2000, 3.2% in 2001, 1.2% in 2002 and 1.8% in 2003.[21]

In an event in 2003 dubbed the "Pong Su incident", a North Korean cargo ship allegedly attempting to smuggle heroin into Australia was seized by Australian officials, strengthening Australian and United States' suspicions that Pyongyang engages in international drug smuggling. The North Korean government denied any involvement. [22]


North Korea's population of roughly 23 million is one of the most ethnically and linguistically homogeneous in the world, with very small numbers of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and European expatriate minorities.


North Korea shares with South Korea a Buddhist and Confucianist heritage and recent history of Christian and Chondogyo ("Heavenly Way") movements. However, according to the CIA Factbook, ever since the rise of communism, free religious activities no longer exist as the government sponsors religious groups only to create an illusion of religious freedom.[23]

Pyongyang was the centre of Christian activity in Korea before the Korean War. Today, two state-sanctioned churches exist, which freedom of religion advocates allege are showcases for foreigners.[33] [34] There are an estimated four thousand Catholics and nine thousand Protestants in North Korea.[35]

According to a ranking published by Open Doors, an organization that supports persecuted Christians, North Korea is currently the country with the most severe persecution of Christians in the world. [36] Human rights groups such as Amnesty International also have expressed concerns about religious persecution in North Korea.


North Korea shares the Korean language with South Korea. There are dialect differences within both parts of Korea, but the border between North and South does not represent a major linguistic boundary. The adoption of modern terms from foreign languages has been limited in North Korea, while prevalent in the South. Other small differences have arisen, primarily in the words used for recent innovations[citation needed].

Hanja (Chinese characters) are no longer used in North Korea, although still used in South Korea in various applications. Both Koreas share the Hangul writing system.

The official Romanisation differs in the two countries, with North Korea using the McCune-Reischauer romanisation of Korean, and the South using the Revised Romanization of Korean language.


There is a vast personality cult around Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, and much of North Korea's literature, popular music, theatre, and film glorify the two men.

In July 2004, the Complex of Goguryeo Tombs was the first site in North Korea to be included into the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

A popular event in North Korea is the Mass Games. The most recent and largest Mass Games was called "Arirang". It was performed six nights a week for two months, and involved over 100,000 performers. The Mass Games involve performances of dance, gymnastic, and choreographic routines which celebrate the history of North Korea and the Workers' Party Revolution. The Mass Games are held in Pyongyang at various venues (varying according to the scale of the Games in a particular year) including the May Day Grand Theatre.

Restaurants run by the North Korean government have opened in China.]

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North Korea: Timeline



1945 - After World War II, Japanese occupation of Korea ends with Soviet troops occupying the north, and US troops the south.

Kim Il-sung died in 1994 but remains eternal president

1946 - North Korea's Communist Party (Korean Workers' Party - KWP) inaugurated. Soviet-backed leadership installed, including Red Army-trained Kim Il-sung.

1948 - Democratic People's Republic of Korea proclaimed. Soviet troops withdraw.

1950 - South declares independence, sparking North Korean invasion.

1953 - Armistice ends Korean War, which has cost two million lives.

1960s - Heavy industrial growth.

1968 - US intelligence-gathering vessel seized by North Korean gunboats.

1969 - US reconnaissance plane shot down.

1972 - After secret North-South talks, both sides seek to develop dialogue aimed at unification.

1980 - Kim Il-sung's son, Kim Jong-il, moves up party and political ladder.

1991 - North and South Korea join the United Nations.

1992 - North Korea agrees to allow inspections by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but over next two years refuses access to sites of suspected nuclear weapons production.

1994 - Death of Kim Il-sung. Kim Jong-il suceeds him as leader, but doesn't take presidential title. North Korea agrees to freeze nuclear programme in return for $5bn worth of free fuel and two nuclear reactors.

1995 - US formally agrees to help provide two modern nuclear reactors designed to produce less weapons-grade plutonium.

Flood and famine

North Korea's leader is seen by some as a clever manipulator
1996 - Severe famine follows widespread floods.

Pyongyang announces it will no longer abide by the armistice that ended the Korean War, and sends troops into the demilitarised zone.

North Korean submarine runs aground in South.

1998 - The late Kim Il-song declared "eternal president", while Kim Jong-il's powers widened to encompass head of state.

UN food aid brought in to help famine victims.

North launches rocket which flies over Japan and lands in the Pacific Ocean. Pyongyang insists it fired a satellite, not a missile.

South Korea captures North Korean mini-submarine in its waters. Nine crew inside found dead.

2000 - Summit in Pyongyang between Kim Jong-il and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. North stops propaganda broadcasts against the South.

Senior journalists from South Korea visit the North to open up communication.

Reopening of border liaison offices at the truce village of Panmunjom, in the no-man's-land between the heavily fortified borders of the two countries.

South Korea gives amnesty to more than 3,500 prisoners.

One hundred North Koreans meet their relatives in the South in a highly-charged, emotional reunion.

2001 May - A European Union delegation headed by Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson visits to help shore up the fragile reconciliation process with South Korea. The group represents the highest-level Western diplomatic mission ever to travel to North Korea.

2001 June - North Korea says it is grappling with the worst spring drought of its history.

Relatives divided for decades by the border are briefly reunited

2001 August - Kim Jong Il arrives for his first visit to Moscow after an epic nine-day, 10,000-kilometre train journey from Pyongyang. Kim apparently dislikes flying.

2002 January - US President George W Bush says North Korea is part of an "axis of evil", along with states such as Iraq and Iran. Pyongyang says Mr Bush has not stopped far short of declaring war.

2002 June - North and South Korean naval vessels wage a gun battle in the Yellow Sea, the worst skirmish for three years. Some 30 North Korean and four South Korean sailors are killed.

2002 September - Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visits, the first Japanese leader to do so. He meets Kim Jong-il who apologises for the abductions of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s.

Nuclear brinkmanship

2002 October-December - Nuclear tensions mount. In October the US says North Korea has admitted to having a secret weapons programme. The US decides to halt oil shipments to Pyongyang. In December North Korea begins to reactivate its Yongbyon reactor. International inspectors are thrown out.

2003 January - North Korea withdraws from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a key international agreement aimed at preventing the spread of atomic weapons.

2003 April - Delegations from North Korea, the US and China begin talks in Beijing on North Korea's nuclear ambitions, the first such discussions since the start of the nuclear crisis.

2003 July - Pyongyang claims that it has produced enough plutonium to start making nuclear bombs.

2003 August - Six-nation talks in Beijing on North Korea's nuclear programme fail to bridge gap between Washington and Pyongyang.

2003 October - Pyongyang says it has finished reprocessing 8,000 nuclear fuel rods, obtaining enough material to make up to six nuclear bombs.

2004 April - More than 160 killed and hundreds more injured when train carrying oil and chemicals hits power line in town of Ryongchon.

Nuclear ambitions: Fuel rods at the Yongbyon facility
2004 June - Third round of six-nation talks on nuclear programme ends inconclusively. North Korea pulls out of scheduled September round.

2004 December - Row with Japan over fate of Japanese citizens kidnapped and trained as spies by North Korea in 70s, 80s. Tokyo says eight victims, said by Pyongyang to be dead, are alive.

2005 February - Pyongyang says it has built nuclear weapons for self-defence.

2005 September - Fourth round of six-nation talks on nuclear programme concludes. North Korea agrees to give up its weapons in return for aid and security guarantees. But it later demands a civilian nuclear reactor.

2006 February - High-level talks with Japan, the first since 2003, fail to yield agreement on key issues, including the fate of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea.

2006 July - North Korea test-fires a long-range missile, and some medium-range ones, to an international outcry. Despite reportedly having the capability to hit the US, the long-range Taepodong-2 crashes shortly after take-off, US officials say.

2006 October - North Korea claims to test a nuclear weapon for the first time.


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 North Korea has no history of being part of any organization dealing with space, and has pursued all endeavors on its own and in secret.



























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North Korea lacks outside investment in its industrial base, while its traditional educational style is rather strong and focused on mathematics and the hard sciences, its facilities are lacking. Its communist command controlled economy downplays market forces, rendering any development into 'carrying out orders' for production of space related material: satellite parts, rocket materials, infrastructure, launching pads and so forth.


























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North Korea operates no satellites but did launch 'something' in 1998. This launch was claimed a successful surprise satellite launch, the satellite being the Kwangmyongsong-1. The US and South Korea deny the satellite exists, because nobody can find it. Whether the satellite was orbited or not, this was the second launched vehicle lifting off from North Korea. It was a modified Russian Scud Missile called Taepo Dong-1.



    The launch of the satellite on a TD-1                  A Taepo Dong-1 Ballistic Missile                  The Kwangmyongsong-1 Satellite



"The satellite was reported to be in an eliptical orbit with a perigee of 218.82 km and an apogee of 6,978.2 km, with an orbital period of 165 minutes 6 seconds. The satellite was said to be equipped with sounding instruments which "will contribute to promoting scientific research for peaceful use of outer space." The report noted that "it is also instrumental in confirming the calculation basis for the launch of practical satellites in the future." The report claimed that the satellite was transmitting "the melody of the immortal revolutionary hymns "Song of General Kim Il Sung" and "Song of General Kim Jong Il" and the morse signals "Juche Korea" in 27 mhz. The report also noted that the "successful launch of the first artificial satellite in the DPRK greatly encourages the Korean people in the efforts to build a powerful socialist state under the wise leadership of General Secretary Kim Jong Il."




Even if not successful, it was a propaganda move by the government


"The announed 27Mhz frequency, which was not particularly precise, is the Citizens Band [CB] used by truck drivers and other mobile travelers. There were no immediately available confirmations of receptions of these radio transmissions. Because of the claimed orbital characteristics of the satellite, the transmissions would be difficult to receive in northern Europe, while in principle they should be much easier to receive in the United States, absent interference from terrestrial CB users. Various observers monitored the 27 MHz band and failed to detect these transmissions." ( 





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The government of North Korea in Pyongyang has plans to increase its use of space related infrastructure and development. Its anti-US stance is recalled in a June 7th 2006 memorandum:


Pyongyang, June 7 (KCNA) -- "The U.S. imperialists are disclosing their wild ambition to misuse modern science and technology for turning outer space into a theatre for carrying out their strategy for world supremacy, observes Rodong Sinmun Wednesday in a signed article. It says: The warlike Bush administration is putting spurs to the militarization of outer space by spending a stupendous amount of funds despite unanimous rebuff and opposition of the public at home and abroad. The U.S. is now hell bent on the moves to militarize space in quest of its world supremacy. The U.S. Department of Defense is pushing forward at a final stage the development of air-based laser weapons capable of destroying inter-continental ballistic missiles at the phase of their acceleration under the plan to expand the Missile Defense System not only on the ground but in outer space in the days ahead. For the present, the U.S. is contemplating carrying on the development of land mobile complex system for an electronic jamming in satellite communication systems and the development projects for fast feeding of information about attack into space mechanisms and conducting an experiment on the use of land-based high power laser weapon capable of destroying low-orbit satellites next year. The U.S. is set to develop space weapons capable of promptly hitting any targets on the land." (


Please check out for a look at North Korea's secret facilities through the orbital satellites IKONOS.














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