1958 HMT (JMT+1) 26 March 1999
2LT Won Youngjae, SRBM launch officer, 12-115 MU, Southern Yangdong Province
‘See you in in the morning, man.’
‘Hopefully the call doesn’t come down tonight.’
I set my hat down at my console as my friend walked out the door, then walked over to the refrigerator to grab a bottle of water before heading outside to smoke.
I looked at Captain Chu on my way out, ‘Gonna get some cancer then I’ll be back.’
It was storming so I headed over to the smoke shed and joined a couple of conscripts from the launch crew.
They snapped to attention and saluted. ‘Pil-sung,’ their corporal said.
I returned their salute and asked how they were doing. We chatted about the day’s events and what they meant for us. In my six months on the job, this was the first time we had this level of tensions. During Chief Counselor Kim’s national address on Namseom shooting down Hanair Flight 215, he promised retribution against those responsible.
Our conversation was interrupted by klaxons from the base loudspeakers. ‘Fuck, it’s time!’ I yelled as we ran to our positions.
I sprinted back to my chair and put on my shoulder harness before grabbing the code binder from the cabinet in my console.
Chu started reading from the computer printout. ‘24 99 Ga Shi 11 25 Su Bin 33 69 Du Wae. How do you authenticate?’
I flipped through the code book to page 24, line 99. ‘Shin Baek 04 15 Mae Byah 42 83 Pang So.’
‘I agree. Stand by for message,’ As we waited for the message, Chu called out from memory ‘Step 1, insert launch key.’
I unlocked the box built into my console and grabbed the key. ‘My launch key is inserted, green light systems enable.’ As I said this the printer started once again and Chu verbally agreed with me before handing the message to me.
As I read the message I saw status lights flash to yellow on the launcher status board as the launch vehicles drove into position.
LEVEL II SECRET
FM 1MU TARGETING
TO 114MU ALL
TEXT REAL WORLD REAL WORLD REAL WORLD
MASANG AD COMPLEX
2RA 57282 18863
234619 RE BU EU CHA BBO
REAL WORLD REAL WORLD REAL WORLD
I entered the center point into the command console, followed by the deviation and missile arming code before handing the paper over to Chu, who confirmed my inputs.
‘Launch parameters are correct,’ he said, ‘Step two, launcher status lights 1-3 are yellow’
‘I disagree, light three is still red,’ I said as I watched the status board for the light to change color. The light changed. ‘Correction, Lights 1-3 are yellow, I agree.’
‘Good. Step three, press TEL erect button and wait for green lights’
I pressed the button and waited for the launcher crews on the surface to obey the signal to raise their missiles. One by one the launcher status lights began to flash between green and yellow before finally settling on green. “I have green lights across the board.’
‘That is correct, step four, TEL selection knob to all.’
‘TEL knob full right.’ We continued through the checklist until we reached the final three items about 30 seconds later.
‘Step 10, crew safety interlock status indicator is green’
‘I have green lights on one, two, aaaaaaaaand three.’
‘Green lights across the board, step 11, turn reporting status knob to full ready.’
‘Ready up.’ A board in our brigade command center showed our status as ready.
A beeper sounded and one final message came across on the printer. It simply said RW FIRE 2007. I looked at the clock. 59 seconds to go.
54 seconds later, Captain Chu called out ‘Last step. On my mark.’ I reached for my key. ‘Five… Four… Three… Two… One… Mark.’
I turned my key and called out ‘One doenjang Gongjang,’ before releasing the key. The missile launch sequence lights began lighting up for each missile until finally the light labeled LAUNCHER FIRE lit up. The lights for each individual missile started going out, indicating that a missile, armed with half a tonne of nerve gas or pure thermobaric hate had taken to the skies.
‘Missile one is away. Missile seven is away. Missiles nine, two, eight, five, three, and four are gone. Hangfire on missile six.’ As Chu reached for the phone to call the launcher, the missile six lights went out too, ‘Missile six is now away. Good launch on six.’
‘All launch sequence lights extinguished. Missiles one through nine are gone.’ We were left looking at the LAUNCHER FIRE lights, flashing red at us in the dimly lit room.
Play up, play up, and play the game!
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