Following the launch of a new hypersonic missile from North Korea, the governments of the United States, South Korea and Japan criticized the action as a threat to regional peace. 

The powerful detonation was detected from several countries, and North Korea’s state news agency KCNA reported it without determining the exact location, but stating that it had reached its intended target, according to Reuters on Jan. 6.

This is the second test that the authoritarian country has carried out since September, when it launched the first missile with these advanced characteristics, joining the world’s main military powers that had already deployed it.

The large hypersonic projectiles require less height in their trajectory and can advance at speeds exceeding more than five times the speed of sound, which is equivalent to some 6,200 km per hour.

In addition to the extraordinary speed its maneuvering ability allows it to combine “multi-step glide jump flight and strong lateral maneuvering,” KCNA said.

The North Korean news agency detailed that the hypersonic missile, after separating from the booster rocket, maneuvered 120 km laterally before “accurately reaching” a target 700 km away.

“My impression is that the North Koreans have identified hypersonic gliders as a potentially useful qualitative means to cope with missile defence,” said Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

In the unstoppable international arms race, these missiles aim to shorten the reaction time available to the attacked country and defeat traditional interception mechanisms.

In support of its defense systems, the United States built a huge $1.5 billion long-range radar in Alaska that it says can track ballistic missiles and hypersonic weapons from countries such as North Korea.

On the other hand, despite the apparent military might displayed by the authoritarian North Korean government, some sources perceive that the internal situation is not the most favorable, given that the food deprivation suffered by its inhabitants is compounded by repeated acts of atrocities and military uprising. 

An unidentified North Korean military official was quoted by Radio Free Asia (RFA) as saying, “Beatings in the military have become more severe these days, and the problem is directly related to poor living conditions for soldiers as the government is providing them with less and less each year,” the source recounted

He added: “In the last three months of 2021, as many as 10 soldiers have violently confronted their superiors nationwide.”

In one of the cases, “At the end of November, a company-level officer of the 45th Division under the 9th Corps asked several times to his superior battalion to let him help solve a family issue and take care of his own personal health issue, but when he was ignored, he confronted his superior with a weapon while he was drunk,” he detailed.

In other cases, military members opt for suicide, “Even earlier this month, in a unit under the 3rd Corps, a company-level officer had a personal problem and appealed to a superior to help solve it,” the anonymous North Korean serviceman continued.

He concluded, “But when the senior officer ignored it, the company-level officer attempted to kill himself with a communication cable around his neck”.

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