DailyNK has some comments from a missile expert that I appreciate for being counterintuitive:
In a conversation with DailyNK, Shin Sung Tack, researcher at CNS(Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey, U.S) analyzed "North Korea already succeeded in launching its test of long-range missile Satellite 'Kwang-myung-sung 1' in August 1998, so rather than July 5th launch of Daepodong-2 being a mechanical defect, there are high chances that it was a 'deliberate failure.'"
In regards to 'The intent of North Korea launching its missile early morning,' he explained "It has been officially clarified that a missile was launched and not a satellite. A satellite is normally launched on a clear day with no clouds around 2~3PM, however there are no precincts with weather or time for missiles."
He added "To launch (missiles) on the 4th (U.S. time) in concurrence with the success of space shuttle 'Discovery' and U.S. Independence Day, was to further its effect."
Daily NK also has a commentary from defector Han Young Jin:
The most serious problem that Kim Jong Il now faces is that of internal division. Since the death of Kim Il Sung, living standards of North Koreans have drastically worsened, and people now criticize Kim Jong Il openly that "he is not as great as his father".
Through the missile launch, Kim hoped to build national solidarity by displaying the power of the military, and hoped to illustrate the need to strengthen the military, specifically in the face of US military pressure on the North.
The Daepodong-1 that was launched in 1998 built solidarity among the people after the severe famine of the mid-1990s. This most recent missile launch is once again aiming to create solidarity among people suffering from economic hardship.
Meanwhile, mainstream news accounts are focused on the diplomatic games being payed out within the U.N. Security Council and between Japan, South Korea, and China, and on North Korean defiance.
UPDATE: Apropos the defector's comment, Strategy Page has a note about the North Korean economy, "Forget the Missiles, This is Even More Bizarre":
July 5, 2006: While everyone's attention was focused on North Korean missiles, the real story is the North Korean economy. It continues to fall apart, and more North Koreans are unhappy about that. Worse yet, more North Koreans are finding out how badly they have been screwed by their leaders. Meanwhile, North Korean officials engage in even more bizarre behavior. For example, food and fuel supplies sent to North Korea have been halted, not to force North Korea to stop missile tests or participate in peace talks, but to return the Chinese trains the aid was carried in on. In the last few weeks, the North Koreans have just kept the trains, sending the Chinese crews back across the border. North Korea just ignores Chinese demands that the trains be returned, and insists that the trains are part of the aid program.
Via Dr. Sanity.
Also regarding the North Korean economy, Han Young Jin reports what a defector had to say about prices and inflation.
- Kim Jong Il To Shoot A New Load
- North Korea Might Not Be As Screwed As We Might Hope
- North Koreans Launch Something, And May Be Ready To Launch Some More
- North Korea Blusters
- North Korea Expected To Launch Some Missile This Summer