North Korea has a new name for North Koreans: ‘space conquerors’

January 13, 2013
This 1999 North Korean stamp is a small but telling indication of the regime's obsession with achieving a successful launch into Earth orbit, which it finally got in December. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP Images)
This 1999 North Korean stamp is a small but telling indication of the regime's obsession with achieving a successful launch into Earth orbit, which it finally got in December. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP Images)

North Korean state media present an easy target, but the latest from the official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, is a doozy even by the DPRK's already-monumental standards of lunacy. A recent editorial in the paper repeats the usual exhortation to each and every North Korean to "devote oneself to building an economic giant with burning patriotic enthusiasm to fully demonstrate Korea of the sun."

What's interesting is that the state-run Rodong Sinmun seems to employ a new, unofficial name for the North Korean people: "space conquerors." In only 365 short words, it refers to North Koreans five different times as "space conquerors," according to the official English translation. To give you a sense of how firmly the paper is hammering this home, here are two successive paragraphs (my emphasis added):

It is necessary to actively learn from and thoroughly embody the white gem-like loyalty of space conquerors who carried out the behests of leader Kim Jong Il to the letter.

It is imperative to struggle and create like the space conquerors who weathered any difficulties to carry out his behests.

Why, you might be wondering, are North Koreans now considered "space conquerors"? One month ago, remember, North Korea successfully fired a long-range rocket into Earth orbit for the first time. Pyongyang officials say the launch was for a peaceful space program; everyone else thinks it was a test run for an intercontinental ballistic missile of the sort that could hypothetically carry a nuclear weapon. The rocket carried a satellite that circled the Earth for maybe two or three days before dysfunctioning and, according to analysts, probably dying.

Despite the satellite's failure, the successful launch was a big step in North Korea's progress toward an ICBM and, within the country, cause for some highly exuberant propaganda. It appears that state media really think they have a winner with this one and are planning to juice it for every drop. Expect to be hearing a lot more about the space conquerors of North Korea -- and, alas, probably for many years to come.

Meanwhile, as a quick reality check: North Korea's "space-conquering" program currently has one dead satellite in orbit. The number of countries that got there first and have functioning satellites in orbit is 21, including most of the West, as well as Malaysia, Egypt, Pakistan and others.

Comments
Show Comments

Get the WorldViews newsletter

Sign up for daily updates from WorldViews.

Most Read World
Next Story
Olga Khazan · January 12, 2013