Easter Weekend Special: A Reason to Worry Less About the North Korean Threat

By James Fallows

Many world news agencies carried this wonderful map, via NKNews.org, of the strike plan Kim Jong Un is preparing so as to make good on his threat to engulf U.S. cities like Austin and Washington D.C. in "a sea of fire." Note the paths shown for missile-strike assaults on North American cities.


NorthKoreanMap.jpg

A natural-sciences professor at an East Coast university sent me this note just now:
>>Take a close look at the North Korea war room photos.  The maps showing the ballistic missile trajectories use a flat earth projection- straight in over the Pacific Ocean.  I haven't seen comment on this.<< 
Indeed! Here is what the actual path for a missile going from Pyongyang (or thereabouts) to Austin would look like, courtesy of the wonderful Great Circle Mapper site. "FNJ" is the code for the airport in Pyongyang -- there is one.

Missile.gif

And the path from Pyongyang to downtown Washington is so different from a straight-line trans-Pacific route that Great Circle Mapper has to show it from a polar perspective:

FNJDCA.gif

This doesn't mean there's no reason to worry about current tensions on the Korean peninsula. But it might mean that Kim Jong Un has some "Hey, wait a minute... " questions to ask his strategic planners. Or perhaps he should buy them a globe. I should probably add that I didn't manage to get this posted before March 31 had ended and April 1 began, but it very definitely is not an April Fool's Day item. The straight-line map was real. Or "real."

To see this item in "classic" view, as I very much recommend you do, please click here.


UPDATE BuzzFeed has essentially re-done this item, with a tiny "h/t The Atlantic" note, this morning. Maybe it's their April Fool's Day entry.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/04/easter-weekend-special-a-reason-to-worry-less-about-the-north-korean-threat/274513/