Kim Jong-un’s rocket men: North Korea’s ‘key men’ behind nuclear weapons arsenal


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Mr Ri is seen left of Kim Jong-un, Mr Hong is right

With their workers, North Korea went from detonating suspected duds in 2006 to its in the air nukes, which are up to 18 times more powerful than the Hiroshima explosive.

And with the regime’s latest missile – the Hwasong-15 – theoretically talented to reach Washington DC, their weapons are more threatening than constantly.

Mr Madden said there were a number of people who’d contributed to North Korea’s atomic weapons over the years.

But he said Ri Hong-sop, the head of North Korea’s Atomic Weapons Institute, and Hong Sung-mu, were the “key people” now.

He said the duo most likely got an academic grounding in the old Soviet Union, perhaps at the Yuzhnoye Design Office in Ukraine, before returning to the North.

Without hope home, they worked at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center – where Mr Hong was reached chief engineer and Mr Ri, director – in the 1980s.

Now they’re among North Korea’s elite and were customers of honour at a performance in September celebrating the regime’s nuclear scientists.

Footage tells the dictator arriving at the show hand in hand with Mr Ri, with Mr Hong at his side, while his spouse, Ri Sol-ju, walks behind.

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Mr Ri is seen with his hand open out briefing Kim Jong-un and Mr Hong is seen on the far right

The two scientists then expect the first and second seats to his left, and when someone tries to hand-out Kim with flowers, he passes them on to Mr Hong.

Ri Hong-sop and Hong Sung-mu are level sanctioned as individuals by the US and EU respectively, with the EU calling Mr Hong “one of the main persons important” for the nuke programme.

Mr Madden said: “They’re North Korean polytechnic experts – such people are usually members of the Korean People’s Body and the Worker’s Party of Korea Central Committee.

“And these guys all bear job titles like ‘deputy director’ of the Worker’s Party of Korea Munitions Business Department.

“It can sometimes be a position with more real power than someone who’s in fact the director.”

Ordnance expert Yu Jin was singled out as another important figure by Mr Provoke.

“He’s basically related to stuff that goes boom,” he said.

“Cool if you have a nuclear weapon, it still has to explode and so he would work on a trigger or something peer that.”

Mr Madden said Yu Jin also seemed to be “a man very comfortable in his slant”.

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Mr Hong is seen next to Kim Jong-un and Mr Ri is next to Mr Hong

He combined: “Based on what he wears, you can tell in his clothing, his comportment, this is a vastly relaxed person.

“Some of these guys look like they’re close to to have their morgue pictures taken and that’s not the case with Yu Jin.”

Mr Incense said that while there was a lot more to North Korea’s atomic programme than the three scientists, the trio were instrumental to its big name.

He said: “These people have career experience, they partake of been in the programme for at least three decades if not four.

“So they were later going to hit on to the right thing – and that’s to do with how Kim Jong-un runs North Korea.

“His shepherd, Kim Jong-il, was a micro manager… Kim Jong-un stays out of the way.

“He does not, despite what a lot of technique headlines say, punish people the same way.

“People don’t get shot because a brickbat test fails.”

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