Rocket news met with dancing in the streets

Last updated 16:16 14/12/2012
North Korea dancing
REUTERS

ONE STEP AT A TIME: North Koreans dance on the streets of Pyongyang to celebrate the country's first satellite launch into space.

North Korea
Reuters/Kyodo
LAUNCH PAD: A screen shows a rocket being launched from the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, at North Korea's satellite control centre in Cholsan county, North Pyongan province on December 12.

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North Koreans clinked beer mugs and danced in the streets to celebrate the country's first satellite in space, even as leaders in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo pushed for consequences for Wednesday's successful rocket launch.

Pride over the scientific advancement outweighed the fear of greater international isolation in the capital, Pyongyang. North Korea, though struggling to feed its people, is now one of the few countries to have launched a satellite into space from its own soil; its bitter rival South Korea is not on the list.

''It's really good news,'' Jon Il-gwang said as scores poured into the streets and danced to celebrate the launch.

''It clearly testifies that our country has the capability to enter into space.''

The North acknowledges three prior failed attempts at a space launch, in 1998, 2009 and this April. It also is believed to have attempted a launch in 2006. The launch in April failed in the first of three stages, raising doubts among outside observers whether North Korea could fix the problem in eight months, but those doubts were erased on Wednesday.

The Unha rocket, named after the Korean word for ''galaxy,'' blasted off from the Sohae launch pad in Tongchang-ri, north-west of Pyongyang, shortly before 10am, just three days after North Korea indicated that technical problems might delay the launch.

Space officials say the rocket is meant to send a satellite into orbit to study crops and the weather.

But the launch could leave Pyongyang even more isolated and cut off from aid and trade.

The United Nations imposed two rounds of sanctions after it carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

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- AP

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