The Institute of Defense Sciences in North Korea was established in the 1960s and renamed the Second Institute of Natural Sciences in the mid 1960s. Its membership was changed from National Security to the Defense Commission and is currently operated by 5.5 million people since 2015.
In the organization system, the Institute of Defense Sciences is an organization under the jurisdiction of the Labor Party’s military and industry and is in charge of research and development of new weapons and North Korea’s conventional weapons modernization projects.
Its headquarters is located in Yongseong 2, Yongseong District, Pyongyang, and is home to 60 research institutes including the missile ‘Engineering Research Institute’, the ‘101 Nuclear Physics Chemistry research institute’, the Changsha Jungpo ‘Precision Research Institute’, and the ‘Chemical Materials Research Institute’ which develops solid fuel engine and missile warheads. The area is home to many defense and science research institutes in the Yongseong district (Yongseong-dong, Yongchi-dong, Jungi-dong) in Pyongyang and is also close to the strategic military headquarters in the southern part of Seongcheon, where many research institutes are gathered.
On August 23, 2017, North Korea’s media outlets reported Kim Jong Un’s visit to the Institute of Chemical Materials and also revealed each missile’s up-grade plans.
North Korea’s Chosun Central News Agency reported on the May 19th, 2017 that President Kim Jong Un of the Labor Party participated in the launch of the new high-power rocket engine, saying it was a newly developed engine at the Institute of Defense Sciences. This nuclear weapon has superior power and ripple effects, and its destructive power is maximized by combining missiles, EMP, and SLBM with nuclear weapons. Developing and deploying them will require enormous amounts of capital, manpower, facilities, time, and international sanctions.
The 2nd Institute of Natural Sciences, in fact, is a ‘camouflage’ name, and when it has to disclose the fact that it is a weapons development institute, it reveals it as the Institute of Defense Sciences; North Korea uses the two names whenever necessary. The name of the Institute of Defense Sciences is not used internally, and as a developer of high-power engines, the front is showing off the weapon development mechanism and its capabilities without hiding it. North Korea disclosed details of the weapons-related test scenes in its official media, and has a clear attitude toward nuclear and missile development.
In addition, the training of scientists and engineers was carried out by a defense scientist training institution called National Defense University. Since the 1970s, the National Defense University has also been known as ‘Frontier University of Technology’ and ‘Pyongyang Institute of Technology’.
By Choi Sung, Professor of computer science at Namseoul University