North Korean leader Kim Jong Un celebrated a “new era of space power” this Friday. State media say he was with scientists and his family. These festivities take place after putting a spy satellite into orbit.
After two failures in May and August, a rocket took off from North Korea on Tuesday and placed the “Malligyong-1” military observation satellite into orbit, according to North Korean media. South Korea confirmed Thursday that the launch into orbit was successful.
The launch is “a full exercise of the right to self-defense,” Kim Jong Un said during a visit to the national space agency. The spy satellite will help protect the North from “dangerous and aggressive movements of hostile forces” and usher in “a new era of space power” in the country.
Suspension of a military agreement
Footage released from Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, shows Kim Jong Un praising scientists and staff at the space agency, recently renamed the National Aerospace Technology Administration (NATA), accompanied by his daughter, Ju Ae. Wearing a black leather coat, the smiling North Korean leader is shown greeting uniformed employees, who all appear to enthusiastically applaud the leader and his daughter.
State media published images of Kim Jong Un at a reception with NATA employees, senior military and political officials, as well as his daughter and his wife, Ri Sol Ju. The leader’s family and other attendees at the reception wore T-shirts reading “NATA” in English. All participants “clapped enthusiastically and expressed their thanks” to Kim Jong Un, said KCNA, the official news agency.
After the launch, Seoul, the South Korean capital, on Wednesday partially suspended a 2018 military agreement with North Korea to prevent armed incidents along the inter-Korean border. South Korea also immediately deployed “surveillance and reconnaissance ets” to this border.
The North Korean Defense Ministry called the measures taken “reckless” and announced that it was also suspending this agreement. Experts say putting a working spy satellite into orbit would improve Pyongyang’s intelligence capabilities and provide crucial data in the event of a military conflict.