Print 38 comment(s) - last by DarkUltra.. on Dec 16 at 7:49 PM

  (Source: [North Korean Propaganda Poster])
That would be enough to buy 4.6 million tons of corn

North Korea's missile launch succeeded in putting a satellite in orbit (perhaps thanks to some Iranian expertise) this morning.  But at what cost did the successful launch come?

I. Money Could Have Ended Famine, Claims South Korea

According to South Korean officials in the Ministry of Unification, the launch and a failed attempt in April directly cost $600M USD (mostly for the rocket and engineering expertise), the launch site costs $400M USD, and additional $300M USD was spent on related facilities.  That adds up to a total of a cool $1.3B USD -- a massive sum for the poverty stricken nation.

To put this in context, South Korea says that would have bought 4.6 million tons of corn for the nation, where a third of citizens are estimated to be malnourished.  That would be enough corn, it says, to feed the people in the north for four to five years.

North Korea is home to an estimated 24 million people, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  Average household income in North Korea is less than $1,900 USD a year, among the lowest incomes in the world.

North Korea Now
One third of North Koreans are estimated to be malnourished. [Image Source: NK Now]

There is some debate about the true cost due to potential deals between Iran and North Korea, in which North Korea agreed to act as the Middle Eastern nation's weapons test bed (and thus may have received better rates on parts and engineering expertise).  

Further questions on the price figure come in due to the fact that North Korean engineers are known to make much less than their foreign peers, but the exact rate is a topic of current reserach and debate.  North Korea is very hostile, isolated, and secretive to its neighbors (other than China) and the U.S., so it is difficult for foreign observers to get accurate numbers to describe its economy.

II. North Korea -- Proud or Used?

Despite its anti-U.S. propoganda North Korea has expressed of late a desire to be recognized by the U.S. and given aid.  A food deal was in the works, but fell through when North Korea broke promises and launched its failed missile test in April.

The big winner in the missile test may be Iran who is unlikely to face sanctions for its supposed involvement, and appears to have offloaded some of the costs of its weaponization efforts on a far poorer ally.  Average income in Iran, according to the CIA, is $13,200, meaning a single Iranian on average earns as much as nearly seven North Koreans (the average income in the U.S. $48,300 USD, roughly 3.7 times Iran's per capita income, and 25.4 times as much as North Korea's per capita income).

Iran missile launch
An Iranian Revolutionary Guard test launch of missiles is shown here dating back to 2006.  The launch was carried out in the city of Qom, a holy city in the Islamist movement.
[Image Source: AFP]

Iran had allegedly approached Russia in 2009 with a satellite launch request, but was rebuffed.  Since it has focused on its own internal rocket efforts for commercial and military purposes.  The White House and CIA have expressed in recent years the belief that Iran is eager to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles, which could be used to threaten the mainland U.S. and its Middle Eastern ally Israel.

Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh in recent statements denied it was targeting the U.S., but confirmed it was refining designs to fire at Israel, stating, "Israel is our longest-range target."

North Korea contends that regardless of the cost, it is worth it to develop both peaceful space projects and nuclear weapons, which it says it needs to "defend itself" against the U.S.

According to a recent public radio report North Korea's rhetoric has shifted since Kim Jung-un assumed power, taking the fresh stance that failure is (sometimes) acceptable, because as some observers put it, the leader says great nations often fail.  For instance, North Korea in the past only broadcast Olympic events where its team or athletes won the particular match.  This time around, they broadcast the whole event and welcomed home the athletes -- even the losers -- as national heroes (traditionally losers were sent to work camps).

Indeed many expected this unfamiliar new breed of mea culpas from the Asian regime to arrive this week when the rocket launched, given the delays due to technical difficulties.  But instead North Korea surprised observers and succeeded, shifting the question to a new one -- whether the cost of success was worth it.

Source: CNN

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Men with too much power
By heerohawwah on 12/12/2012 7:28:38 PM , Rating: 2
There are a number of documentaries about North Korea. National Geographics: Inside North Korea is good. All you tech geeks know where to find it...

One would hope that over time a countries citizens would rise up and take control, but North Korea appears to be a lost cause. The best thing for all its people would be an all out invasion by the UN or whoever...Until then the North Korean people will continue to starve and suffer murderous death everyday.

RE: Men with too much power
By NicodemusMM on 12/12/2012 7:56:36 PM , Rating: 2
Among other things, two issues with the All-Out-Invasion approach would be:

1) The citizenry would defend against the 'hostile' invasion.
2) Those that didn't would be slain by their own government and/or peers.

RE: Men with too much power
By Pirks on 12/12/2012 8:20:32 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah the most prudent course of action would be to build extensive missile interceptor and long range radar sites around US and Japan, most likely targets for NK nukes. If you regularly test your interceptors and NK knows their ICBM will be shut down, they can waste all the money they wont together with Iran and other Islamist zealots. The only REAL problem we will have in the future is not NK or Iran, it is the newly emerging Islamic Europe. This thing I have no idea how the US and its allies are going to deal with. Here's the real prospect of WW III gentlemen.

RE: Men with too much power
By PrinceGaz on 12/13/12, Rating: -1
RE: Men with too much power
By Pirks on 12/13/2012 5:34:26 PM , Rating: 3
You think UK is the only country in Europe? Travel to France first, see how Muslims are doing there, then we'll talk

RE: Men with too much power
By Penti on 12/13/2012 11:58:48 PM , Rating: 1
Only parts which has been a part of the Ottoman empire has any significant Muslim population in Europe. Plus Cyprus. Those countries are also mostly outside of the EU and Schengen Area. That France has more (native French speaking to begin with) immigrants with Muslim background than UK has is simple, Algeria and the Algerian war and other former colonies. France is still under 10%. I'm not worried about Bosnia and Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, Albania and Kosovo or Macedonia and Montenegro. Neither people from the undemocratic out of control US puppet-regime of Georgia to soon be ousted by it's people. People in places like say Somalia can't get any papers for travel any way as there is no recognized government in it's territories to issue any papers and occupying countries (Ethiopia and Kenya) will not supply them with any identification papers. So they will not be able to travel regardless of their reason to or religion. We keep plenty of people away from EU with illegal means already.

In my country Finns are the largest immigrant population. I guess we should throw them out for being more prone to violence and murder back in Finland than statistics/average are here. Oh, I guess Xenophobia only works against none-whites too bad. Stuff tends to turn into problems when you make them one. Here we have more Christian refugees from Iraq then the US received Iraqis wanting to emigrate there in total. Over 100,000 middle eastern people who have emigrated to us is Christian. It's not like you have any use trying to label groups and ethnicities.

There are plenty of race and urban riots in the US. When you hear about such stuff here it can be about all from 1-12 people involved up to 50 in extreme cases. Worse in UK and France naturally. Here it's a problem even before they set cars on fire. The police (army) hasn't really killed any one by firing on crowds since 1931 here. They came close by shooting an anarchist in 2001 though.

RE: Men with too much power
By othercents on 12/13/2012 10:21:30 AM , Rating: 2
I would have to put an all out invasion being the same as when the Americans took over Okinawa in WWII. In that war more citizens died then all the total military losses. Many Okinawan citizens even took their own lives because they feared being tortured by the Americans. The Japanese Emperor at the time was teaching both the military and citizens that it was better to commit suicide instead of being caught.

This I fear would be the outcome of an invasion on North Korea. Plus, unless we forget, we have been there before.

RE: Men with too much power
By Ammohunt on 12/13/2012 1:40:55 PM , Rating: 4
Been there before fighting China with a president that lacked the will to complete the mission. If such an ill advised invasion were to take place China would not sit by idle. The best course of action is to isolate NK even more.

RE: Men with too much power
By Obujuwami on 12/13/2012 3:08:16 PM , Rating: 2
I think you are partially correct. If you think about it, what do the Islamic states fear from being nuked? Blasted back to the desert? THEY LIVE IN THE DESERT! The US has far more to fear as our lands are green and fertile.

I would think that a WWIII episode would be more prevalent if China got involved...which it thankfully isn't.

RE: Men with too much power
By DarkUltra on 12/16/2012 7:43:29 PM , Rating: 2
One more point to this: Do not think only of the current suffering people of North Korea, but of future generations. How long will NK be in its state and how many more children will die of malnutrition compared to a hopefully one-time invasion.

RE: Men with too much power
By FITCamaro on 12/12/2012 8:06:04 PM , Rating: 3
Hard to rise up when you're starving.

RE: Men with too much power
By headbox on 12/12/2012 10:55:13 PM , Rating: 2

Also, those financial estimates are in 1st world dollars. Most of the labor was free, and everything else at Dear Leader Wholesale prices.

RE: Men with too much power
By RufusM on 12/13/2012 3:38:05 PM , Rating: 3
...starving and without weapons because they are banned by the government. It doesn't do much good to bring a knife to a gun fight.

RE: Men with too much power
By lagomorpha on 12/13/2012 8:11:30 AM , Rating: 2
The Vice Guide to travel on North Korea was pretty telling as well. Iirc part of the problem with an invasion is the North has enough artillery pointed at Seoul to do substantial damage before being overrun.

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