It made the news earlier this week that the first hypersonic missile test conducted by the U.S. Air Force had failed, when held Tuesday off the coast of California.
According to Daily NK, the North Korean regime has established a new college, focused on hypersonic missile technology, at its military college, the Kim Jong Un National Defense University. The school debuted when North Korea’s academic year began at the beginning of April, and is known as College #11.
The school follows the North Korean regime’s move to establish a new research center under the Academy of National Defense Science. That had been brought into motion by an order in early January.
The college appears to have come together quickly. According to the site’s military source, “the Central Committee sent instructions to create the new college to Kim Jong Un National Defense University on Mar. 16. The university completed all preparations for the establishment of the college by Mar. 30.”
Despite that, the college will have a four-year program with five cohorts, each including 150 students in the freshman class.
The college, per Daily NK’s source, will not accept any new students this year, but rather will absorb existing students from three existing colleges: College 1 (the College of Rocket Engineering: Engine and Body Design), College 8 (the College of Computer Engineering: Software Design) and College 6 (the College of Electronic Engineering: Electronics Design). However, College 11 will only have freshmen, and will require an extra year in school for the scheduled class of 2023.
“The authorities want to produce more national defense specialists by teaching them about hypersonic weapon design, production, and research,” the site’s source said. “Starting next year, incoming students will face much higher criteria regarding test scores than other places.”
As far back as 2018, the North Korean regime was thought to be working on hypersonic missile technology, along with Iran. At least, that was the opinion of Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, director of the Missile Defense Agency, in testimony to the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee in April of that year.
“The hypersonic threat is something that we need to address expediently,” Greaves said at the time.
More recently, Adm. Phil Davidson, the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command also addressed the North Korean hypersonic threat.
“In early 2021 [Kim] characterized the United States as the North’s biggest or principal enemy as he vowed to strengthen its nuclear arsenal. Kim also identified several new weapon modernization goals in early 2021, to include developing tactical nuclear weapons and hypersonic glide vehicles and improving the readiness and accuracy of North Korea’s ICBMs,” Davidson said in March.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.