North Korea is not known for subtlety in its propaganda videos, and the latest clip, published by the Uriminzokkiri outlet, shows a North Korean missile headed toward the U.S. territory of Guam, which Pyongyang has been threatening to “envelop” with missiles.
The video was released on the eve of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises between the American and South Korean militaries, which started Monday. The annual drills are mainly computer-based, but they nevertheless annoy North Korea and come at a particularly sensitive time.
Just this month, as tensions between Washington and Pyongyang mounted following the launch of North Korea’s second intercontinental ballistic missile, Trump warned North Korea that it stood to feel the “fire and fury” of the American military.
This one is titled: “What will the cost be for Americans, who are losing sleep at night?”
Showing recent clips from the North Korean news, the video’s captions read: “Since the North gave notice of its Guam attack plan, there has been a commotion at the White House, the Pentagon, on Guam, and on the political scene.”
Earlier this month, North Korea’s military said it was considering firing Hwasong-12 missiles into the waters near Guam, home to huge U.S. Air Force and Navy bases, and home to “strategic assets” like B-1B bombers. The Hwasong-12 has a maximum range of 3,000 miles, and Guam is only 2,000 miles from North Korea.
It was this threat that prompted Trump to warn that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded” and ready to respond to any provocations. Then, last week, Kim Jong Un took the heat out of the tensions when he said he would “watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees.” (And no, Kim is not a Red Sox fan.)
Against a background of war scenes and American troops walking, the video continues:
“[The U.S.] boasts that not a single bullet has landed in its territory during 150 invasions … the U.S. which abused and harassed people of other countries … is threatened by just one announcement by the North’s commander in chief.”
With missiles launching, it carries on: “They have to live with their eyes and ears wide open as they don’t know when and how the Hwasong-12 rocket will harass them, whether at day or night.”
Cue ominous music and footage of two missiles being launched. Then there’s a bird’s-eye view of Guam, as if shot from the nose cone of an incoming Hwasong-12, and the suggestion that the United States is all talk and that it won’t respond to any provocation.
“If a single bullet lands in the territory of Guam, the United States’ bluffing will be revealed to the entire world as fake,” the captions, written in a jarringly cute font, continue.
Get the picture? North Korea wants the United States to be scared, really scared.
Then, as if this message might not be too subtle, the creative video team goes in for the kill.
A lineup ticks along the screen, behind a row of flames, licking their faces. First comes Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Then comes Vice President Pence, followed by CIA director Mike Pompeo. Rolling next into the fire are Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The caption accompanying this lineup: “All North Korea needs to do is to place its hand on a button and press it when the right time comes. The U.S. will live in fear and anxiety the whole time. They will sweat so much in this hot summer weather.”
For its climax, the video cuts to a photo pretending to show Trump looking out over a sea of white crosses, the kind one might see at a military cemetery. “The fate of the U.S., with its many crimes, ends here.”
The video ends with a calendar showing the days of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises (although they got the day wrong, showing them as starting on Sunday when they, in fact, started on Monday.)
Over the top come the words: “Time is not on the U.S.’s side.”
Is it just more bluster, or a real threat? Well, here's a reason not to be too worried: The video was entirely in Korean.