Where Are North Korea’s Rocket Men?

Here is the latest speculation from experts on what North Korea plans to do next:

Two key officials in charge of North Korea’s missile development were absent at recent major events, a mass rally in Pyongyang on Saturday and the Workers Party anniversary on Tuesday.

Neither Ri Man-gon, who oversees the party’s department in charge of nuclear weapons and missile development, nor Kim Rak-gyom, the head of the Strategic Rocket Forces who is in charge of ballistic missile launches, showed up.

That has given rise to speculation that they are busy somewhere else preparing for a fresh missile launch.  [Chosun Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

North Korean Commander of Strategic Forces Removed After Multiple Missile Test Failures

In the least surprising news of the day, the North Korean military commander responsible for their ballistic missile program has been removed after repeated failures of their Musudan and submarine launched ballistic missiles:

The North Korean military commander responsible for the country’s recent botched missile launches was removed from the ruling party’s central military commission, the results of the party congress showed Tuesday.

The name of Gen. Kim Rak-gyom, the chief commander of the North Korean military’s strategic forces in charge of missile operations, was omitted when the North released the list of the reshuffled Central Military Commission at the closure of the congress of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.

Along with Kim, other officials were let go, which caused a downsizing of the commission to a 12-member body.

South Korean military officials said the move may have been punishment for the back-to-back failures of the Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

“We are paying close attention to the exclusion of strategic forces commander Kim Rak-gyom from the Central Military Commission,” one official here said. “We need to study further personnel decisions, but the likelihood is that Kim may have been held accountable for (the failed launches).”  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I would have to think that this has to be one of the least desirable command jobs in the North Korean military.