Kim Jong Un celebrates North Korea's new "space power" era

Pyongyang, North Korea - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un celebrated a "new era of a space power" with scientists and his family, state media said Friday, after the North successfully put a military spy satellite into orbit.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un meets with members of the Non-Standing Satellite Launch Preparation Committee.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un meets with members of the Non-Standing Satellite Launch Preparation Committee.  © KCNA via REUTERS

Pyongyang's launch of the Malligyong-1 on Tuesday was its third attempt at securing a military eye in the sky after failures in May and August.

Within hours of the launch, North Korea claimed that its leader was already reviewing images of US military bases in Guam.

The launch was "a full-fledged exercise of the right to self-defense," Kim said during a visit to the national space agency, according to Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency.

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The spy satellite will help protect the North from "dangerous and aggressive moves of the hostile forces," he said, adding that it had pioneered "a new era of a space power" coming to the country.

South Korea confirmed that the launch was successful but said it was too early to determine if the satellite was functioning as claimed by the North.

Images released by Pyongyang showed Kim praising scientists and space program workers at the National Aerospace Technology Administration while accompanied by his young daughter Ju Ae.

Wearing a black leather coat, a grinning Kim was seen waving at the uniformed workers, all of whom appeared to be enthusiastically cheering him and Ju Ae.

Kim Jong Un shows "paternal love" for space scientists

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un attends a banquet to celebrate the launch of a reconnaissance satellite.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un attends a banquet to celebrate the launch of a reconnaissance satellite.  © KCNA via REUTERS

State media released images of Kim enjoying a reception with NATA workers, top military and political officials, and his daughter and wife, Ri Sol Ju.

Kim's family members and other reception attendees were seen wearing matching T-shirts that said "NATA" in English.

All of the attendees "enthusiastically cheered expressing thanks to the great father who finally ensured the successful launch," KCNA said.

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Kim showed "such paternal love for the space scientists," the state mouthpiece added.

After Tuesday's launch, South Korea partially suspended a five-year-old military accord with the North and deployed "surveillance and reconnaissance assets" to the border.

Pyongyang responded by calling Seoul's moves "reckless" and saying it would also suspend the deal in full, adding that it "will never be bound" by the agreement again.

Experts have said putting a working spy satellite into orbit would improve North Korea's intelligence-gathering capabilities, particularly over South Korea, and provide crucial data in any military conflict.

Cover photo: KCNA via REUTERS

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