Although it’s certainly possible (maybe even inevitable) that someone else has already noticed this, the first one who pointed it out to me was Jacob Bogle, who posted about it here and emailed me (thanks, Jacob). Here’s an overview of the area showing the old launch gantry and support areas. The new pad is marked with the orange arrows.
The new pad clearly shows the flame channel, similar to the one at the Seohae launch facility. In April 2010, there was nothing there but empty fields:
Here’s what it looked like last April:
The angle of the shadows suggests a disturbing possibility — that rather than an above-ground launch pad, this is a silo, which would would significantly harden the site against air strikes. Whereas the shadow inside the flame channel suggests depth, there is no such shadow at the launch site itself, suggesting the absence of a gantry. This image also suggests that construction was incomplete, but proceeding rapidly.
A nearby assembly area shows substantial evidence of new construction since the next most-recent image, from April 2010.
Similarly, this support area more ongoing construction … and a substantial amount of demolition, as well. See the village on the center right?
Now you don’t. I wonder where those people were shoveled off to.
Thanks again to Jacob for the find and the tip.
Update: Imagery from 38 North suggests that this is indeed a silo of some sort.