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Kim Jong-un celebrates a 'new era of space power' for North Korea | North Korea

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un waves to the crowd during a visit to the General Administration of Aerospace Technology, in this photo published by the Korean Central News Agency on November 24, 2023.

Agence France -Press

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un celebrated a “new era of space power” with scientists and his family after launching a spy satellite, state media said Friday.

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 orbit was successful.

The launch is a full exercise of the right to self-defense, a declared Kim Jong-un during a visit to the national space agency, according to the official Korean news agency in Pyongyang.

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, he said.

Images released by Pyongyang show the North Korean leader praising the scientists and collaborators of the space agency, recently renamed the National Aerospace Technology Administration (NATA in English) , accompanied by his daughter, Ju Ae.

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Dressed in a black leather coat, Kim Jong-un, smiling , is shown greeting the uniformed employees, who all appear to enthusiastically applaud the executive and his daughter.

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Many people watched live as North Korea's latest satellite was put into orbit, despite UN bans on the country's use of such technologies.

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 son wife, Ri Sol Ju.

The leader's family and other attendees at the reception wear T-shirts with the inscription NATA in English, in these images.

All participants applauded enthusiastically and expressed their thanks to Kim Jong-un, KCNA said.

After the launch, Seoul on Wednesday partially suspended a 2018 military agreement with North Korea to prevent armed incidents along the inter-Korean border and immediately deployed surveillance and reconnaissance assets to this border.

North Korea's Defense Ministry called Seoul's measures reckless and announced it was suspending also this agreement, in its entirety.

Experts say putting a working spy satellite into orbit would improve Pyongyang's intelligence capabilities and would provide crucial data in the event of military conflict.

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