North Korea tested its largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to date on Thursday, marking the country’s first long-range test since 2017. State media called the weapons demonstration a “powerful nuclear war deterrent.”
State officials said Friday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un personally guided the launch of the missile, known as Hwasong-17 — and have the video to back that up.
In honour of the missile launch, North Korean television broadcast a Hollywood-style short film starring the Supreme Leader himself. The heavily edited and produced video has drawn comparisons to the movie Top Gun and the K-pop hit Gangnam Style.
The video begins with Kim, clad in a leather jacket and sunglasses, walking in slow-motion out of a hangar as bay doors open to reveal the Hwasong-17 ICBM. Two uniformed military officials flank the North Korean leader as dramatic music plays in the background. The scene feels reminiscent of the slow-motion walk in 1998’s Armageddon.
B-roll of the ICBM transitions us into a new scene, in which Kim and his two officers stare intently at their watches. The camera lingers on cuts of Kim, Officer #1, and Officer #2 standing on their own, before rapidly cutting between the three shots, zooming in on the North Koreans, for maximum suspense.
Kim removes his sunglasses in slow-motion at the apex of the jump cuts and nods toward the missile, triggering the beginning of the launch process.
The missile is brought out of the hangar and fixed into position. We see an officer screaming into a phone, then a soldier in the field screams and waves a flag, then a whole group of soldiers start screaming in a command trailer. A zoomed-in close-up shows the launch button being pushed.
The ICBM takes off, spewing clouds of grey smoke, and a red flame trails off the end of the missile. Five clips of the launch play in succession from different vantage points. A camera attached to the missile shows the Earth slowly shrinking away.
As the missile disappears, Kim cheers with his two aides, and soldiers in the field celebrate the successful launch.
The Kims are a family who love their films. In 1978, Kim’s father Kim Jong-il kidnapped a prominent South Korean film director and actor to boost North Korea’s movie industry.
Despite the widespread poverty in the country, North Korea diverts significant funds to producing movies, many of which are tools of propaganda, like this, to praise the Supreme Leader and his family.
Based on flight details released by the South Korean and Japanese militaries, analysts think that the Hwasong-17 could reach targets 15,000 kilometres away, which would mean the entire U.S. mainland — and most of Canada — is in striking distance of this new ICBM. It remains to be seen if this missile can support the payload of a nuclear warhead.