North Korea remains silent for more than 24 hours after a missile test ended in a fiasco with an explosion over Pyongyang on Wednesday.
South Korea said what is believed to be a ballistic missile exploded in mid-air shortly after it was launched from the international airport near Pyongyang on Wednesday morning.
The North Korean government did not immediately comment on the Seoul report, and state media did not report any evidence the following day.
What is surprising is that no images or witnesses have been published with their names revealed, despite the missile’s explosion over a city of some three million people.
Human rights activists said the silence underscores the government’s complete control of the country.
The Seoul-based NK News website, citing anonymous witnesses and a photograph it said was for evidence, said the wreckage fell in or near Pyongyang after the failed test. He said the photo he saw shows a red ball at the end of a plume of smoke curling in the city sky in the path of the missile launch.
The site did not publish the photo, attributing it to its need to protect the source.
“Imagine the news if it’s London, Istanbul or Seoul, it will be full of videos, photos and eyewitness accounts,” Sokel Pak of Liberty in North Korea, an organization that helps fleeing North Koreans, said on Twitter.
“But it was Pyongyang, so there is not a single public photo or video clip. A complete optical blackout of a huge explosion in the sky over an Asian capital in 2022.”
Cell phones have proliferated in North Korea in recent years, but the government maintains tight control over phone networks and Internet connections, most of which are not connected to the outside world.
The country’s isolation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as border closures have prevented most cross-border travel and contact with China and forced many foreign embassies and international aid organizations to withdraw their country staff.