August 26, 2016 11:21
North Korea has been squandering vast amounts of money on almost weekly missile tests in recent months despite barely maintaining itself at subsistence level amid international sanctions.
That was only possible because the regime has been showering the scientists and technicians involved with its scarce resources.
Leader Kim Jong-un has invited them to lavish banquets in Pyongyang in their honor and proclaimed them national heroes, going so far as to name a street in the capital for scientists and building them a high-rise apartment block there. The complex includes a sun deck and sauna.
The rest of the hapless population have to double their efforts to pay for this generosity. Soldiers were mobilized to build the 53-story block in just 60 days, and other complexes are still going up.
The state media constantly hail and praise scientists as "Kim Jong-un's warriors."
"Scientists are part of the elite along with high-ranking Workers Party members and wealthy merchants, so a lot of children now want to be scientists when they grow up," a source said.
Kim has been unusually forbearing with the scientists. After consecutive Hwasong-10 and submarine-launched ballistic missile tests failed, there was no sign that he was punishing anyone for the failures.
Lt. Gen. Kim Rak-gyom, head of North Korea's Strategic Rocket Forces, disappeared from the radar for a while, raising speculation that he may have been sacked, but then he resurfaced at a Hwasong-10 test launch in June.
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