Confusion reigned across the globe today as North Korea announced that it had yesterday successively tested a new orbital heavy lift launch vehicle by launching a massive payload of 50,000 kilograms of rice into low-earth orbit.
The diplomatically and economically isolated Stalinist dictatorship - officially known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)- revealed the May 21 launch on state television and boasted that its Juche I rocket will herald "a new era in the struggle against American imperialism of the heavens"
A Rice Surprise
The rocket had hitherto been unknown in the West and its success comes as a shock to U.S. intelligence and space experts.
"50,000 kilograms is a huge amount," explains an engineer at NASA, "Only our largest rockets can achive that kind of payload....We have no idea how they did this."
"This is actually one of the least crazy things they've done"
Contacts at U.S. intelligence agencies in Washington indicated that a program of this magnitude must have been hidden underground for decades, and have been a major drain on state resources.
"We estimate that this launch alone may have taken up 10% of their entire GDP for the last two decades. The only way they could have hidden this is if all of their supposed nuclear facilities were actually working on this rice-to-space mission."
Indeed of all the mysteries surrounding the launch, the most confusing was the rocket's reported payload.
As most orbital launch vehicles are designed to carry satellites or humans, experts were at first at pains to explain why North Korea decided to launch thousands of packages of rice and leave them to orbit the Earth.
The answer came later in the day when the DPRK tweeted on its offical Twitter account a link to a document outlining the mission's purpose:
미국은 상대를 똑바로 보고 어리석은 술책을 걷어치워야 한다.tinyurl.com/cab9vkp
— uriminzokkiri (@uriminzok) May 21, 2012
The rambling press release explains that North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un decided to send the rice in order to appease a race of god-like space aliens called the "Shook-Lee" - which he claims were the original inhabitants of Earth before the ascendancy of homo sapiens and from whom he believes all North Koreans claim partial descent.
The rice packages will stay in orbit for 3 years whereupon the aliens will return to re-claim their kingdom from the humans, sparing those who were wise enough to make a rice offering before their arrival.
When the Shook-Lee land they will wipe out every nation on Earth except the generous North Koreans. The Hermit Kingdom will thus arise victorious in its long struggle against Western imperialist tyranny and will once again dominate the world order under the guidance of Kim Jong-un and the new Shook-Lee occupation force.
Western political observers were puzzled by the move, but few were entirely caught off guard:
"This is actually one of the least crazy things they've done," says Piers Jackson, a professor of Korean Peninsula studies at Columbia University, "And it didn't seem to hurt anyone. So. Whatever. It's North Korea."
The document ends simply with:
"Down with the vicious dog bites of American imperialism! Long live the blessed new kingdom of the Shook-Lee!"