It’s been just over three months since former North Korean president Kim Jong-Il died and was succeeded by his youngest son, Kim Jong-Un.At the time, the succession was met with speculation and concern about what direction the new regime would take, and if it would adhere to the militant policies handed down through the generations.
It hasn’t taken long to find out that it has and it will, but now, after the 2010 attack against the South, it’s a whole new ballgame.
That year the North rained down an artillery barrage on the South in November after allegedly sinking the South Korean ship the Cheonan in March.
The artillery attack was likely the last set of blows the South is prepared to receive standing down, and the sinking of the Cheonan resulted in South Korean ship captains being given permission to fire on the North at will.
That means if a single shot gets fired at the South Korean Navy there are no checks and balances to keep the scene from flaring up into a full-blown fight.
The launching of this missile sometime within the next few days has ratcheted regional tensions to a new high, and South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. have all said they’re prepared to shoot the rocket down should it wander from its path.
If that happens, the North has already said they’ll consider it an act of war and pledged “merciless punishment” upon the responsible country.
These Associated Press pictures take us inside the launch site, the command centre, and the surrounding preparations for what could be the most watched event on the Korean peninsula in years.
North Korean space officials said Tuesday that all assembly and preparations for a planned satellite launch have been completed
North Korean space officials have moved a long-range rocket into position for this week's controversial satellite launch, vowing Sunday to push ahead with their plans in defiance of international warnings against violating a ban on missile activity
Ryu Kum Chol, deputy director of space exploration in the Department of Space Technology of North Korea, centre, prepares to leave after a press conference held ahead of a satellite rocket launch
Engineers are pumping fuel into a rocket that is set to carry a satellite into space, officials said Wednesday, showing reporters a live feed of the west coast launch pad
North Korean technicians man computer terminals at North Korea's space agency's General Launch Command centre on the outskirts of Pyongyang
Their colleagues at the command centre at Sohae Satellite Station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea were also busy at work
North Korean officials escorted a group of international media by train from Pyongyang to see the country's Unha-3 rocket
A crowd of media gathers around a North Korean official on a road in front of North Korea's Unha-3 rocket
A North Korean official wears pins showing the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il during a tour of the North Korea's Unha-3 rocket
The satellite that North Korean officials say will be launched with the country's Unha-3 rocket is shown to the media at Sohae Satellite Station in Tongchang-ri
North Korean guide Kim Won Ho shows journalists a model depicting a North Korean satellite over planet earth at the Three Revolutions exhibition hall in Pyongyang
A laser pointer's path is traced on a darkened dome to illustrate the celestial planets as part of an exhibition highlighting North Korea's space achievements
A North Korea man stands near a billboard showing a rocket launch and calling for the building of a strong and prosperous nation in Pyongyang
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.