The silent army behind the North Korean missile program 5

The silent army behind the North Korean missile program 5

North Korea's series of missile tests shows the importance of scientists and engineers, a little-known silent army.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff announced on January 27 that North Korea launched two objects suspected of being ballistic missiles into the eastern sea of the peninsula.

Analysts say that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is gradually institutionalizing the missile force, showing that he wants to incorporate them into the country’s long-term military strategy and become an effective deterrent for the country.


There is very little information about the identities and positions of mid-level scientists and technicians participating in the research and development of North Korean missiles.

`This is a group that is not easily replaced, unlike economic officials or even military officers,` commented Michael Madden, an expert on North Korean politics at the US-based Stimson Center.

North Korea’s missile array makes the US worried

Powerful missile array in North Korea’s arsenal.

Many of these people studied at Kim Jong-un National Defense University, which trains experts in defense science and technology and recently opened a major in hypersonic missile technology.

`Scientists in each project are often divided into small groups to compete with each other, allowing North Korea to test many directions with each specific weapon and evaluate which technology has the most potential,` Ken

A report conducted by the James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies in 2018 showed that North Korean scientists have coordinated with researchers in other countries to compile more than 100 important specialized documents in the field of nuclear technology.


Pyongyang’s missile program is run by three officials close to Kim Jong-un, including former air force general Ri Pyong-chol, veteran missile expert Kim Jong-sik and the director of the arms development center.

North Korean Army Chief of General Staff Pak Jong-chon also recently took on an important role at the General Administration of Defense Industry, the agency responsible for developing strategic weapons systems.

The silent army behind the North Korean missile program

Kim Jong-un and officials next to ballistic missiles at an exhibition in Pyongyang in October 2021.

Yu Jim, the official who was in charge of North Korea’s defense deal in Iran, was appointed last year as Director General of the General Department of Defense Industry of North Korea.

Organizational structure

The National Academy of Defense Sciences (NADS) is the unit in charge of North Korea’s missile development process.

The fact that only NADS personnel were present shows that the weapon system is still in the research and development stage.

An official from the North Korean Army General Staff inspected the test, which means the weapon is complete and ready to be put into service.

`There are signs that North Korea may bring many elements from the Strategic Forces under the General Staff when completing its missile and nuclear weapons arsenal, suggesting that this force may switch to the role of the General Staff.

North Korea’s missile program originated from aid packages from the Soviet Union and later Russia.

The silent army behind the North Korean missile program

The missile carries a hypersonic warhead in a photo released by North Korea on January 5.

On January 12, the US Treasury Department announced sanctions targeting a number of North Koreans, accusing members of the Korean Academy of Defense Sciences in Russia and China of continuing to purchase materials and technical information.

Markus Schiller, a missile expert in Europe, said that consecutive successful missile launches in January showed that Pyongyang still received technological support from outside.

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