On November 24, 2023, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un marked a “new era of space power” following the successful launch of a spy satellite earlier in the week. This achievement comes after two failed attempts in May and August of the previous year. Observers note that this success follows the recent strengthening of ties between Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin over the past months, especially in military terms, with historical roots.
During the Korean War, the USSR supported Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, fostering close ties with Pyongyang that endure to this day. Cyril Bret, a researcher at the Jacques Delors Institute and a Russia expert, emphasizes the historical significance of these bonds, dating back to the Soviet era and the Cold War. The recent success is seen in the context of Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin’s deepening relationship.
The handshake between Putin and Kim on September 13 at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East highlighted their diplomatic closeness. According to reports, North Korea agreed to provide one million projectiles to support Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, receiving substantial compensation in return. This exchange involves Russia sharing its expertise in space, satellite observation, aerial surveillance, and missile systems, addressing North Korea’s strategic needs.
While this military collaboration between North Korea and Russia progresses, questions arise about its compatibility with the proclaimed “limitless friendship” between China and Russia. China, a traditional ally of North Korea, has expressed diplomatic displeasure over the North Korean satellite launch, revealing potential strains in their relationship. Analysts suggest that China may not entirely disapprove of North Korea supplying weapons to Russia amid regional rivalries, although recent geopolitical shifts may impact this stance.
Military experts emphasize the significance of North Korea’s spy satellite launch, asserting that it provides critical data for the country’s military in potential conflict scenarios. As global tensions rise, the alliance dynamics between North Korea, Russia, and China remain in the spotlight, with implications for regional stability and strategic interests.