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North Korea's Latest Missile Test

Sue Mi Terry

Statement from Sue Mi Terry, Director of the Hyundai Motor Korea Foundation Center.

North Korea has embarked on an ambitious military modernization plan, and we are likely to continue to see in 2022 Kim’s efforts to create a nuclear triad that can survive a first strike and to develop weapons that can evade existing missile defense systems. North Korea’s latest missile test—it may be a new missile or hypersonic missile--is part of this ongoing effort and we should expect more to come.

This test follows the North’s testing of new capabilities in recent months, including a new submarine-launched ballistic missile, a new surface-to-air defense missile system, a long-range cruise missile, and a hypersonic missile. The North is, for now, likely to stay with testing short-range missiles that will not get Beijing or Washington to react, but in the latter half of 2022, after the Beijing Winter Olympics in February and after South Korea’s presidential election in March, the North could seek to escalate tensions, even carrying out an ICBM test (such as the yet untested Hwasong-16.)

And if the conservative candidate of the opposition People Power Party, Yoon Seok-yeol, wins the presidency, tensions between the two Koreas could rise again.

As the economic situation worsens in North Korea, Kim could use more provocations such as missile tests in an attempt to extract more aid from the outside world. But we shouldn’t be panicked or over-react to one more missile test. Kim is simply running the North’s tried and true playbook of using provocations to increase his international leverage and ability to coerce more concessions from the United States. 

About the Author

Sue Mi Terry

Sue Mi Terry

Former Director of the Asia Program and the Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy

Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy

The Center for Korean History and Public Policy was established in 2015 with the generous support of the Hyundai Motor Company and the Korea Foundation to provide a coherent, long-term platform for improving historical understanding of Korea and informing the public policy debate on the Korean peninsula in the United States and beyond.  Read more