North Korea fires suspected rocket after warning of satellite launch

By Thomson Reuters May 27, 2024 | 9:25 AM

SEOUL (Reuters) -North Korea fired an unidentified projectile on a southern path off its west coast on Monday, South Korea’s military said, hours after Pyongyang said it would be launching a satellite some time before June 4.

The launch appeared to originate from Dongchang-ri, a northwestern area of the country where North Korea’s main space flight centre is based, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The Japanese government issued an emergency warning on Monday for residents in the south to take cover from the possible threat of a North Korean missile, before lifting the warning and saying it was not expected to fly over Japanese territory.

Japan said over its J-Alert broadcasting system that North Korea appeared to have fired a missile, sending out the warning to residents in southern prefecture of Okinawa.

North Korea had earlier in the day notified Japan that it plans to launch a satellite between May 27 and June 4.

The launch would likely be the nuclear-armed North’s attempt to place a second spy satellite into orbit. After several failed attempts that ended when the rockets crashed, North Korea successfully placed its first such satellite in orbit in November.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed video of what appeared to be an orange dot flying into the night sky and then bursting into flames in an area close to the border between China and North Korea.

A Japanese defence ministry official told reporters that the colour of the flames in the footage suggests that liquid fuel may be burning, but details are currently being analysed, NHK reported.


South Korea’s military said on Friday it had detected signs of preparations for a possible launch from North Korea’s Dongchang-ri site.

In February U.S. space experts said North Korea’s first spy satellite, dubbed the Malligyong-1, was “alive”, after detecting changes in its orbit that suggested Pyongyang was successfully controlling the spacecraft – although its capabilities remain unknown.

North Korean state media reported that the satellite had transmitted photos of the Pentagon and White House, among other areas, but has not released any of the images.

The successful November launch was the first after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a rare trip abroad in September and toured Russia’s most modern space launch centre, where President Vladimir Putin promised to help Pyongyang build satellites.

Neither country has elaborated on the extent of that future aid, which could violate United Nations Security Council resolutions against North Korea.

Russian experts have visited North Korea to help with the satellite and space rocket programme, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unnamed South Korean senior defence official.

Pyongyang has said it needs a military reconnaissance satellite to boost monitoring of U.S. and South Korean military activities.

(Reporting by Josh Smith, Hyonhee Shin and Cynthia Kim in Seoul, and Satoshi Sugiyama in Tokyo; Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by William Maclean, Alison Williams and Andrew Heavens)