North Korea may have accidentally bombed one of its own cities last year

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have been building over the past year, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un testing weapons left and right. But a new report suggests that one of the country’s own cities was hit by accident during a failed North Korean missile test last year.

The Hwasong-12 missile that was tested on April 28th was previously thought to have disintegrated in the air. But news magazine The Diplomat reported yesterday, January 3rd, that the missile hit the city of Tokchon instead. An unnamed U.S. government source told the magazine that the missile’s engines failed one minute after the launch. According to the report, satellite imagery confirms the site of the missile’s crash landing.

Tokchon has a population of about 200,000 and is roughly two hours away from Pyongyang. The missile launch reportedly hit a complex of either agricultural or industrial facilities. The number of potential casualties from this crash is unknown, but because the missile contained unburned fuel, it likely caused an explosion.

The Hwasong-12 was later successfully tested on May 14th. And North Korea continued to launch the missile in 2017, sending it over Japan in August and September. Later, components of the missile were used to build the Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15 missiles. The Hwasong-15 was successfully tested in November, giving North Korea the ability to reach the U.S. mainland.

The failed missile test in April suggests that these weapons might not all be stable, adding another potential danger to Kim’s continual launches. And given the country’s successful tests in the time since, we’re pretty worried about North Korea’s missiles. It doesn’t help that our president continues to make nuclear threats toward Kim over Twitter. We hope that no one in Tokchon was hurt in April and that the conflict between the U.S. and North Korea can be resolved peacefully.