On the morning of April 12, North Korea breached international law with a controversial rocket launch. The date coincided with the centennial birthday of the nation’s founder, Kim Il Sung. Although the rocket broke apart moments after liftoff, much of the global community remains concerned.
North Korea-officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea-has long been identified as a violator of human rights and insubordinate to international law. Since its founding in 1948, the communist dictatorship has severely restricted its citizens’ rights, causing tens of thousands to flee the country, risking arrest and imprisonment.
According to officials in Pyongyang, the capital, the purpose of the launch was to put an earth-monitoring satellite called the Shining Star into orbit. Many experts suspect that the satellite was a cover-up to test long-range missile technology.
The launch was “a clear and serious violation of North Korea’s obligations under two United Nations Security resolutions that explicitly prohibit North Korea from testing ballistic missiles,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
Many view last Thursday’s launch as a political move by 28-year-old leader Kim Jong Un to legitimize his recent appointment as First Secretary of the DPRK. The effort backfired, however, and has since been widely labeled an “embarrassment.”
This is not the first time North Korea has undertaken such a launch. In fact, it is the fourth. In 1998, Pyongyang attempted to deploy its first long-range rocket over Japan. A second launch took place in 2006 and a third in 2009. All allegedly failed in their aim to put a satellite into orbit. These three launches, in addition to nuclear testing in 2006, prompted the United Nations Security Council to ban the country from further missile launches and nuclear testing.
Despite the failure of last Thursday’s launch, the DPRK’s blatant disregard for international law greatly troubled neighboring countries. In Japan, for instance, troops were assembled in Okinawa “in case of emergency” and leaders are discussing measures to take “in conjunction with the international community,” reports the Japan Times.
The DPRK’s response? “We don’t really care about the opinions from the outside,” Paek Chang-ho, head of the satellite control centre at the Korean Committee of Space Technology said. “This is critical in order to develop our national economy.”
CIA World Factbook