North Korean Missile Test Earns Researchers a Parade and a Hug From Kim Jong Un

A military parade marks the 105th birth anniversary of North Korea's founding father, Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang, on April 15. Another parade was held to celebrate the country's missile researchers. Damir Sagolj/Reuters

Kim Jong Un, North Korea's dictatorial leader, is hell-bent on making his country a nuclear power—it's been his primary focus, even if the prohibitive costs have meant people have starved. So important is the nuclear program that North Korea this week had a parade in honor of missile developers after the researchers oversaw a smooth test launch.

The isolated nation claimed the rocket it tested over the weekend was capable of carrying a "large-scale, heavy nuclear warhead." It was a medium-range rocket that reached an altitude not previously in range for the country—meaning the new missile could potentially strike targets some 1,200 miles away.

In recognition of that test, the developers reportedly received a hero's welcome in Pyongyang. "According to state media thousands of people took to the streets of Pyongyang in colorful and traditional clothes," wrote Sky News. It was all apparently in honor of the researchers as they returned from the Kusong region, where the test took place over the weekend.

"Streets of the capital city of Pyongyang were full of festive atmosphere to greet the scientists of national defense," wrote the Korean Central News Service (KCNA), the state news service. The developers were taken around the city and greeted by people from "all walks of life," state media claimed.

"The buses carrying them went through the streets of the capital full of flowers of welcome," wrote KCNA. "Citizens warmly congratulated them, waving flags of the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea], red flags and bouquets."

The parade wasn't the only congratulations the scientists received. State media reported that Kim watched the test and was so pleased he jubilantly "hugged officials in the field of rocket research, saying that they worked hard to achieve a great thing."

The latest test launch comes amid increased tensions between North Korea and the U.S. under the administration of President Donald Trump. The president has said he would be willing to engage in talks with North Korea, but the White House responded to the latest test by saying the country "has been a flagrant menace for far too long."