North Korea rarely has much to show off. Every 20 years or so, they upgrade to a new Kim, and the product rollout is pretty much the crazy, hermit-state equivalent of the iPad 3 launch. In 2012, however, Pyongyang had a whole different kind of launch in mind and took the unheard of step of polishing up the Dear Leader statues and throwing open the doors to the international press, as the country attempted its first satellite launch. It was a dud. According to U.S. and Japanese defense officials, the rocket failed mid-flight, breaking up in the atmosphere. The satellite the North intended to launch was barely above the hobbyist level—a 2,200 lb (1,000 kg) cube covered with solar panels and topped by a high-definition camera. But the rocket, a long-range Unha 3, was a formidable piece of ordnance—more than suitable for carrying warheads if not spacecraft. So don’t snicker at L’il Kim’s sword-rattling—but don’t be too impressed by his wrong stuff space program either.
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