North Korean TV recently broadcast the first video images of the activities surrounding the launch of the Kwangmyongsong 4 satellite.
The images came in a 37-minute documentary called “경애하는 김정은동지의 령도밑에 지구관측위성《광명성-4》호 성과적으로 발사” (rough translation: Earth observation satellite Kwangmyongsong 4 successfully launched under guidance of respected and beloved comrade Kim Jong Un) that contained several snippets about the country’s space program and the new satellite.
One of the first takeaways: the General Satellite Command Centre opened by Kim Jong Un around April 2015 wasn’t finished at the time.
The documentary begins with some outdoor shots that reveal some cosmetic changes.
The TV images (above) show some changes have been made to the entrance to the building. Notice the doors appear to have some sort of smoked glass paneling in front of them. In images broadcast last year, the looked like much more common glass doors.
The video shows Kim Jong Un talking, and possibly lecturing, officials of the space center. As usual, there are several officials noting every utterance down.
Next, we see Kim Jong Un entering the viewing gallery above the main control room. Compared to last year, the control room below has since been outfitted with a huge screen and computer monitors. It clearly wasn’t complete at the time of his May visit.
Here you can see soldiers sitting at consoles and watching a recording of the launch of the Kwangmyongsong 3-2 satellite, the first to be successfully put into orbit by North Korea. That launch occurred in December 2012.
And in May 2015, this is what the room looked like:
The desk at which Kim Jong Un sat to view the main control room has also been improved. Originally, it looked like this:
But the new images show microphones and a globe. There was already, of course, an ashtray.
So when did Kim Jong Un visit? A clue is found in a screen showing the orbit of Kwangmyongsong 3-2. It’s not totally clear, but it appears to say January 14, 2016, on the lower clock.
Further, the two clocks are 30 minutes apart, one showing :14 and the other :44, and the date on the upper clock appears to be different.
The UTC (GMT) date changes to catch up with North Korea at 8:30am Pyongyang time each morning, so it would have to be sometime before that for them to read differently.
The map appears to show the part of the globe illuminated by the sun. At 2344UTC Jan. 13, or 0814 Pyongyang time Jan. 14, this is the area of the Earth in sun and darkness:
That’s in line with the image, so it looks like the visit took place on the morning of January 14, 2016, in Pyongyang.