Leather jacket, sunglasses and a gigantic missile: North Korean state media announced the launch of Pyongyang’s largest-ever intercontinental ballistic missile with an attempt at old school Hollywood flair on Friday.
Leader Kim Jong Un walks towards the camera, flanked by generals, as they prepare to fire the giant Hwasong-17 missile — Pyongyang’s first ICBM test since 2017.
Over suspenseful music, the camera cuts between two generals and Kim checking their watches, before, in slow motion, Kim whips off his sunglasses and gives a nod, prompting soldiers to move the enormous missile into position.
The footage — swiftly remixed into parodies on social media — also focuses on the missile itself. A dramatic countdown scene leading up to the launch shows soldiers shouting “fire!” as the button for the test is finally pressed.
Cheong Seong-chang of the Center for North Korea Studies at the Sejong Institute, said the style of the video shows Pyongyang’s increasing confidence in its military capabilities.
“They have gained confidence in their military power to the point where they feel comfortable making it into a movie and enjoying it,” he told AFP.
Kim’s father and predecessor Kim Jong Il was an avid film fan who ordered the kidnapping of a South Korean film director and an actress in 1978 to help develop the North’s cinema industry.
Even now, the impoverished country pours significant resources into movies, although many of its productions are propaganda works extolling the ruling Kim family.
While Friday’s state media video displays clear foreign influence, the regime, in fact, punishes anyone found secretly accessing overseas content.
North Korea last year introduced a new law that sought to stamp out any kind of foreign influence, punishing anyone caught with foreign films and clothing.
Known as the Hwasong-17, the giant ICBM was first unveiled in October 2020 and dubbed a “monster missile” by analysts.
It had never previously been successfully test-fired, and the launch prompted immediate outrage from Pyongyang’s neighbours and the United States.
The North is already under biting international sanctions for its weapons programs, and the UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting over the launch on Friday.