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Expert Available: North Korean Missile Could be Cry for U.S. Attention, Says MU Expert

April 7, 2009

Story Contact:  Jeffrey Beeson, (573) 882-9144,
Seungkwon You, (573) 882-7693,

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Many might call North Korea's latest missile launch less than successful, but a University of Missouri expert says North Korean leadership may have other goals in mind.

"North Korea simply wants to be in a better position to negotiate with the U.S.," said Seungkwon You, teaching associate professor of Korean education in the MU College of Arts and Science and research associate for the MU Asian Affairs Center. "With the changes in U.S. administration, North Korea could be looking for a way to break the ice with President Obama."

Although the launch only reached 2,000 miles into space, military experts assessed that North Korea's current missile technology does have the potential to be sold to terrorist countries. On Monday, Obama called for U.N. sanctions against the country, but with China and Russia as allies, there is little chance of any punishment against North Korea, You said.

"The country is facing major economic troubles and there have been many questions regarding the deteriorating health of leader Kim Jong Il," You said. "This latest launch is more about showing off the strength of North Korean leadership and their potential for economic opportunities."

The University of Missouri's Asian Affairs Center was created in 1998 to build on teaching and research connections in the region to benefit citizens, government entities and businesses.