A political cartoon by artist Johnny Won, posted to his Sina Weibo page, shows Kim Jung-Un having intercourse with a woman and saying, “I fired! I don’t know why there was no ejection.” His partner responds, “This is a question you should ask doctor Cui Chenghao.” Cui Chenghao is the name of a very popular ‘North Korean’ parody account on Sina Weibo.
This comic follows recent reports that North Korea had raised their rockets into a firing position, but was then “tucked back into its launcher”，according to CNN.
Another comic by Johnny Won shows a child-sized Kim Jung-Un in a cape, standing on a pedestal and urinating on the United States, South Korea, and Japan. China stands off to the side, leaning on a cane and saying, “Stupid child, you’re looking for death.”
Here is another cartoon from China, although I haven’t been able to find the original artist. It was posted to Cui Chenghao’s Weibo. A well-dressed China tells North Korea to sit down and behave, as an angry United States looks on South Korea plays mindlessly with her toy plane.
The US has deployed missile defence systems in response to North Korea’s threats against its neighbours.
The defences, which have the capability to shoot down missiles inside and outside the Earth’s atmosphere, will be ready within weeks, the Pentagon says.
Along with the US, North Korea’s neighbours Japan and South Korea also have missile defences in the area.
The North Korean threat is driving significant interest in missile defences especially in countries like South Korea and Japan. Such defences rest upon both sea and land-based elements – like Aegis-equipped warships with radars and interceptors capable of tackling ballistic missiles as well as the ground-based radars and missile systems like Patriot and Thaad.
While primarily directed against a potential North Korean threat, it is clearly hoped in Washington that over time, the build-up of missile defences in the region may encourage China to bring pressure to bear upon Pyongyang. While missile defences are for now not directed against China, it is clear that their spread could potentially have an impact upon Beijing’s own strategic deterrent.
What missile defence systems are in the region and how do they work?
SS John S McCain is in the Western Pacific
The Aegis system allows warships to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles while they are still in space.
The interceptor missiles are fired to hit missiles before they re-enter the atmosphere, stopping them well before there is any danger of causing any damage.
The US Navy, South Korea and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force all have destroyers in the region with Aegis capability.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or Thaad, is being developed as a rapidly-deployable system capable of defending against short and medium-range ballistic missiles during the late-mid-course and terminal phases of their flight.
The system – being deployed by the US to the Pacific island of Guam – can destroy enemy missiles at ranges of 200km and at altitudes up to 150km and is used to protect high-value strategic or tactical sites such as airfields or populations centres.
Thaad has been much delayed in development and the Guam deployment will be its first real mission. The first two of nine planned batteries were only scheduled to be delivered to the US Army in 2012.
1. The enemy launches a missile
2. The Thaad radar system detects the launch, which is relayed to command and control
3. Thaad command and control instructs the launch of an interceptor missile
4. The interceptor missile is fired at the enemy projectile
5. The enemy projectile is destroyed in the terminal phase of flight
The launcher trucks can hold up to eight interceptor missiles.
The Patriot is an advanced surface-to-air missile system intended to defend against aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles.
It is the third layer in the defence shield and is used to stop weapons at close range.
The key elements are radar, the control centre and the launchers mounted on trucks. Each launcher holds four missiles – or 16 in the latest “Pac-3″ version.
South Korea and Japan both have Patriot systems.
|Conscription||17 years of age|
|Available for military service||6,515,279 males, age 17-49 (2010 est.), 6,418,693 females, age 17-49 (2010 est.)|
|Fit for military service||4,836,567 males, age 17-49 (2010 est.), 5,230,137 females, age 17-49 (2010 est.)|
|Reaching military age annually||207,737 males (2010 est.), 204,553 females (2010 est.)|
|Active personnel||1,106,000 (ranked 5th) (2010)|
|Reserve personnel||8,200,000 (2010) (ranked 1st)|
Although the North Korean military once enjoyed a startling advantage against its counterpart in South Korea, its relative isolation and economic plight starting from the 1980s has now tipped the balance of military power into the hands of the better-equipped South Korean military. In response to this predicament, North Korea relies on asymmetric warfare techniques and unconventional weaponry to achieve parity against high-tech enemy forces. North Korea has developed a wide range of technologies towards this end, such as stealth paint to conceal ground targets, midget submarines and human torpedoes and a vast array of chemical and biological weapons. And blinding laser weapons. The Korean People’s Army also operates ZM-87 anti-personnel lasers, which are banned under the United Nations Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons. The North has over 5,000 tanks and up to 10,000 artillery pieces.
|Military age||Mandatory 18 to 35 years of age for male, wartime conscription 18–45 years of age|
|Conscription||21–24 months depending on the branch|
|Available for military service||12,483,677 (2005 est.), age 15–49|
|Reaching military age annually||344,943 (2005 est.)|
|Active personnel||639,000 (2012) (ranked 7th)|
|Reserve personnel||2,900,000 (2012) (ranked 3rd)|
In the early days of American democracy, you could always count on Benjamin Franklin for a good political joke to put things into perspective.
In the early days of Egypt’s democracy, you’ve got Bassem Youssef.
He’s been called the “Egyptian Jon Stewart.”
The former heart surgeon, shot to fame during Egypt’s revolution in 2011 after he posted videos on YouTube lampooning political figures.
And those videos paved the way for a TV show with millions of viewers.
But over the weekend Bassem Youssef saw what happens when he thinks he’s funny, but the Egyptian government does not.
A warrant was issued, and Youssef was questioned by authorities for a few hours before being released on bail.
The comedian allegedly insulted Islam and President Mohammed Morsi.
“I don’t have any personal vendettas against anyone,” Youssef responded. “On the contrary it would be an honor for me to host any of those I criticize on my show it would be a success for myself and also a success for freedom of thought and expression as it would send a message to the people that they, the Muslim Brotherhood, are in power. They accept criticism and that once they leave the show I would still criticize them. This happens all over the world so why can’t it be for us?”
That is a key question, not just in Egypt, but also in other Arab Spring countries – like Tunisia and Libya – where revolutions have toppled long-standing rulers.
Michael Wahid Hanna, a fellow at The Century Foundation, says “Egypt is perhaps unique in the proliferation of legal measures that are very clearly aimed at stifling speech, expression and dissent.”
North Korea says it has ordered artillery and rocket units into “combat posture” to prepare to target US bases in Hawaii, Guam and the US mainland.
The announcement, carried by KCNA news agency, follows days of strong rhetoric from Pyongyang.
It came as South Korea marked the third anniversary of the sinking of the Cheonan warship, which left 46 sailors dead.
South Korea said it had detected no signs of unusual activity in the North.
Tensions remain high on the Korean peninsula in the wake of North Korea’s third nuclear test on 12 February. The test led to new UN sanctions which Pyongyang strongly opposes.
Joint US-South Korea annual military drills have further angered the communist nation. In recent weeks its habitually fiery rhetoric has escalated – it has threatened the US with “pre-emptive nuclear attacks”, as well as strikes on US military bases in Japan.
“From this moment, the Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army will be putting in combat duty posture No 1 all field artillery units including long-range artillery units and strategic rocket units that will target all enemy objects in US invasionary bases on its mainland, Hawaii and Guam,” the KCNA statement said.
North Korea is not thought to have the technology to strike the US mainland with either a nuclear weapon or a ballistic missile, but it is capable of targeting US military bases in the region with its mid-range missiles.