North Korea satellite launch fails, with another promised as ‘soon as possible’
Written by ABC Audio All Rights Reserved on May 31, 2023
(SEOUL, South Korea) — North Korea acknowledged on Wednesday its failure to launch a military spy satellite, an attempt that U.S. officials called a “brazen violation” of U.N. resolutions.
After admitting the failure in an unusually short time, North Korea’s state news agency reported that a second launch attempt will be made as soon as possible.
The satellite crashed into the West Sea as it lost its thrust due to an abnormality in the start of the two-stage mover after the first stage was separated during a normal flight, according to state media.
The satellite essentially blew up in the air, an embarrassment for Kim Jong Un’s government, a senior U.S. official told ABC News. North Korea said in 2018 that it put a satellite into space, but international analysts later said that wasn’t true.
Citizens in Seoul, South Korea received a “presidential alert” phone message early on Wednesday morning, shortly after the satellite launch, from the Seoul Metropolitan Government which noted that “all citizens should be ready to evacuate.”
Twenty-two minutes later, the Ministry of Interior and Safety in charge of sending disaster alerts across the country sent another alert noting that the initial message to Seoul was “an erroneous alert.”
Another 22 minutes later, Seoul Metropolitan Government clarified that their earlier message was due to a “North Korean missile launch” and “the alert has been lifted.”
Some citizens whose phones’ operating systems were set up in English received messages titled “wartime alert,” which sent jitters across the foreign community.
The confusing alert messages from the city and the government raised criticisms over whether the authorities were overreacting or actively administering.
“Unlike North Korea’s usual launch into the East Sea, the Seoul Metropolitan Government, which is responsible for the safety of 10 million citizens in the situation of launching south this time, decided that immediate action is necessary and issued an alert,” Oh Se-hoon, the mayor of Seoul, said.
“South Korean people are not trained nor have they been carrying out drills to prepare for such attacks. The problem is, cases like this will most likely happen again more frequently,” Park Jae Wan, professor of Security Strategy at Seoul-based Kookmin University in Seoul, told ABC News.
President Joe Biden and his national security team are assessing the launch in close coordination with allies and partners, according to National Security Council spokesperson Adam Hodge.
The launch used ballistic missile technology, “which is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, raises tensions, and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region and beyond,” Hodge said in a statement.
“We urge all countries to condemn this launch and call on the DPRK to come to the table for serious negotiations,” Hodge said. “The door has not closed on diplomacy but Pyongyang must immediately cease its provocative actions and instead choose engagement.”
South Korea’s military retrieved parts of North Korea’s satellite wreckage from the sea and plans to analyze the technology used in the projectile which North Korea claims to be a “satellite.”
North Korea’s National Space Development Administration is analyzing the cause of the accident.
Wednesday’s launch also prompted brief evacuation alerts in Japan.
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