North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister said Thursday that Pyongyang would “correctly” place a spy satellite into orbit soon, a day after their first attempt crashed.
Pyongyang has pitched its military satellite as a necessary counterbalance to the growing US military presence in the region, pointing to Washington’s ongoing joint drills with Seoul as one example of many.
North Korea’s new Chollima-1 rocket lost thrust and plunged into the sea with its satellite payload on Wednesday, state media said in a rare same-day announcement following the failed launch.
Kim Yo Jong, who also serves as a spokesperson for the regime, said a second attempt would soon be made.
“It is certain that the DPRK’s military reconnaissance satellite will be correctly put on space orbit in the near future and start its mission,” she said Thursday, referring to North Korea by its official name.
Pyongyang also released photographs of what it said was the new Chollima-1 rocket taking off from a seaside launch site surrounded by flames and smoke.
The rocket — named after a mythical winged horse that often appears in Pyongyang’s propaganda — featured a bulbous nose, apparently used to carry the satellite payload.
The United States, South Korea and Japan slammed the launch, saying it violated UN resolutions barring Pyongyang from any tests using ballistic missile technology.
Kim Yo Jong said such critiques were a “self-contradiction”, given that the United States and other nations have already launched “thousands of satellites”.
“The US is a group of gangsters who would claim that even if the DPRK launches a satellite in space orbit through balloon, it is illegal and threatening,” she said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
Analysts warn that if North Korea succeeds, the satellite’s monitoring capabilities would be a major issue, enabling Pyongyang to target US and South Korean forces more accurately.
“The use of a satellites for military purposes includes reconnaissance (intelligence collection), global positioning information and the attacking of opponent’s satellites. Space warfare,” Chun In-bum, a retired South Korean army general, told AFP.
Since diplomatic efforts collapsed in 2019, North Korea has ramped up military development, conducting a string of banned weapons tests, including test-firing multiple intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Leader Kim declared last year that his country was an irreversible nuclear power and called for an exponential increase in weapons production, including tactical nukes.