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Report: Kim Jong-un launches ‘most powerful’ missile yet

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The new Hwasong-18 rocket blasted off last week from a private launch site east of Pyongyang, in Kim Jong-un’s private mansion

Kim Jong-un’s “most powerful” missile yet was launched from his private golf course in North Korea and experts fear what could happen next.

The new Hwasong-18 rocket blasted off last week from a launch site east of Pyongyang, according to Sam Lair of the James Martin Centre for Nonproliferation Studies.

But it’s not a normal test site, it’s one of Kim’s private mansions, boasting its own golf course and the fairway itself may have been the launchpad.

North Korea expert Jacob Bogle identified the golf course when he created a comprehensive map of the country from satellite photos. He thinks the location might have been chosen to send a message to the rest of the world.

He said: “The Hwasong-18 launch took place at a little-known mansion in the Samsok District of eastern Pyongyang, along a bend in the Taedong River.

“There isn’t much public information about this complex, but the mansion includes a large banquet hall and has one of North Korea’s three known golf courses.

“They’ve been launching from a diverse range of locations like runways, roads and beaches, and I suspect it’s to demonstrate their ability to launch from unsuspected places and different terrains.

“Basically it’s a threat – ‘we can do this from anywhere and if you attack our dedicated ballistic missiles bases, we can still drive off to a random golf course or wherever and launch a nuke.'”

He continued: “A country’s ability to launch from all terrains gives that country a more secure second-strike capability and enhances the survivability of their missile forces.

“If the West were to destroy North Korea’s known missile bases, Pyongyang could still have mobile launch units fire from airports, highways, beaches, and even palaces. That makes tracking and targeting all the more difficult.”

Footage of last week’s missile test shows the mobile launcher driving to its destination along a small tarmac road bordered by planted hedges.

It continues through fields of well-cut grass and over a small bridge, before arriving at a launchpad surrounded by five large ponds.

The test site could almost be a putting green with a series of water hazards at its edge. Whether it’s actually part of the golf course remains unclear, however, the launchpad only recently appeared in satellite photos and the elevation there is lower than the rest of the fairway.

In any case, the location of the launch remains symbolic and Kim’s new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is the first to use solid fuel, making it quicker and easier to launch.

Regime propaganda called the Hwasong-18 the country’s “most powerful, pivotal and principal means” of defence.

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