It seems that every few months there will be a news headline along the lines of “North Korean rocket test fails.” So why are the North Koreans so bad with rockets?
Are they technologically inept? Rockets are complicated – it is rocket science after all – and even outside of North Korea for every hundred or so rockets we launch a few go boom. But we’ve gotten a lot better. Back in the fifties, we were blowing up rockets left and right. You’d think that at some point the Soviets or Chinese would have given the North Koreans tips on how not to blow up their rockets. Or is the North Korean technology on the level we had in the 1950’s, so are they just doing as well as we did back then?
Is it inept/deranged leadership? As I pointed out, rockets are complicated. You need to test their components, separately and combined, dozens even hundreds of times to make sure they all work. And when parts unexpectedly fail, or when some unforeseen design problem raises its head, that causes delays. But when someone comes to the head of the rocket team saying, “Next Thursday is the anniversary of our leader losing his virginity. Launch a rocket by then, or face a firing squad,” they probably launch a rocket, even if not all the bugs are worked out of it.
Is it sabotage? Now before you all jump to the CIA conspiracy, it would probably be South Korean Intelligence. Probably with some help from the CIA. Or it could be internal. If the deranged leader keeps talking about how strong they are with their rockets, and the rockets keep blowing up, that would show weakness. Possibly sowing the seeds for a coup.
And a coup might be a smart idea. If the new leader announced that the old was taken out by some foreign power, one, how would the North Korean people know otherwise, and two, the rest of the world would assume the CIA did it. Hell, Trump would probably take credit for it in a tweet in the hope to shore up his poll numbers from a sector of his base even while the rest of the government was saying, “We had nothing to do with it.” And during the resulting brouhaha here in America, North Korea would attack South Korea. With rockets that worked.