- Muhyiddin: Arrest of 3 meant to safeguard peace
- BANTING MURDERS: N. Pathmanabhan, three farm hands gets death
- BANTING MURDERS: Judge praises police investigators
- Trio detained for making seditious remarks
- BANTING MURDERS: Full Judgement
- New passport improvement
- British soldier hacked to death by Muslim terrorist
- BANTING MURDERS: Guilty verdict brings closure for victims' families
- BANTING MURDERS: Chronology of events
- Highway bridge collapses in US; people in water
- Five dead as police helicopter crashes in Venezuela
- End near if self denial continues
- Giant Lego Star Wars X-Wing lands on NY's Times Square
- Malaysian couple joins Aussie's billionaire club
- Siti Hanisah conquers world's highest peak More
AT 7.39am on April 13, North Korea fired a missile (which it called a satellite launch) in the face of opposition from almost the entire international community. The vehicle exploded a minute after takeoff.
North Korea typically goes silent after such episodes. But this time was different.
In the coming weeks, we will most likely learn of a purge of those responsible. Indeed, the engineers and scientists involved in the launch probably put their lives on the line.
Moreover, North Korea could not deny failure this time, because the regime invited international media to attend the event. The "failure" could not be concealed, so it was quickly admitted.
Supposedly ordinary people in Pyongyang told foreign media, with a practiced spontaneity, that "success is born of repeated failure."
That is a chilling sentiment. The missile launch is believed to have been a legacy of Kim Jong-il, who fervently believed that the North's survival required it to develop nuclear and biochemical weapons. So, the failed missile launch probably means that a resumption of nuclear testing is inevitable, following tests in 2006 and 2009.
However, radioactive elements, such as Krypton-85 or Xenon-135, were not detected in the atmosphere after previous tests. Just as the North called the recent missile a "satellite", an underground explosion caused by conventional explosives cannot be used as a bargaining chip unless it is called a "nuclear test".
The next one probably will occur as soon as 500-1,000 tonnes of dynamite have been secured.
The failed launch also marked a security fiasco for the North, as a South Korea think-tank obtained the final orders for it. These instructions casually referred to Kim family business, indicating that "the teachings should be executed by Kim Kyong-hui" (Kim Jong-il's sister), that "Kim Kyong-hui and Kim Jong-un should take care of the family", and that "Kim Kyong-hui should handle management of all assets inside and outside the country".
Foreign media often focus on Kyong-hui's role as the wife of regime insider Jang Sung-taek, but, as Jong-il's sister, she has been firmly in control of personnel changes since her brother's death.
Of the 232 members on Jong-il's funeral committee, she was listed 14th; her husband was 19th. She is routinely ranked higher than her husband in terms of protocol. Indeed, Sung-taek's promotion to General was her decision.
The problem is that Kyong-hui is in poor health, owing to years of alcohol abuse. Moreover, she is so capricious and self-centred that even Jong-il had trouble keeping her in check.
Due to her poor health, it is unclear how long she will be able to continue advising Jong-un, now surrounded by military personnel in their seventies and eighties who supported past generations. He needs advisers closer to his own age, but none is at hand.
Dynastic concerns now seem to be paramount for the regime. Speculation is growing, for example, about whether Kim Sol-song -- the second daughter of Jong-il's third wife -- will be appointed when Kyong-hui is no longer able to perform her duties.
Before his death, Jong-il reiterated that at least three nuclear reactors should be built. He also warned that China, despite being North Korea's closest ally, is also the country that merits the most caution. North Korea, he insisted, must not allow itself to be used by China.
When Kim Il-sung (the "Eternal Great Leader") died in 1994, Jong-il relied on his father's teachings to reinforce his authority. Indeed, there is no way of knowing whether his ideas and policies throughout his reign were actually Il-sung's.
Perhaps Jong-il's "Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System" should now be viewed as an official document that stipulates which instructions are to be followed when, where, and by whom. In that case, his successor, the callow Jong-un, can claim to be bound to do as he was told.
North Korea routinely pushes the international community around. But the North is itself being pushed around by the teachings of a ghost, conveniently used by the people who remain in charge in Pyongyang. How long will the rest of the world allow itself to be pushed around by a ghost? Project Syndicate