On May 31, North Korea faced an unfortunate incident with its military spy satellite launch. Due to an engine problem, the satellite crashed into the Yellow Sea. Despite this setback, North Korea remains determined to proceed with a second launch at the earliest opportunity, according to reports from Yonhap News Agency.
The satellite, named "Malligyong-1," was launched using a new-type rocket called "Chollima-1" from the country's rocket launching station on the west coast. However, during the flight, the carrier rocket experienced an abnormal starting of the second-stage engine after the separation of the first stage, resulting in a loss of thrust and ultimately causing the satellite to crash. The low reliability and stability of the new-type engine system, as well as the unstable character of the fuel used, were cited as the reasons behind the failure, as mentioned in a report by the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), which quoted a spokesperson from the state-run space development agency.
In response to the incident, North Korea has expressed its commitment to thoroughly investigating the defects that led to the failure and taking necessary measures to overcome them. The nation has also pledged to conduct the second launch as soon as possible by conducting various part tests.
South Korea and Japan issued emergency warnings, advising residents to seek shelter indoors if they were outside during the launch. Japan considered the projectile launched by North Korea as a "possible ballistic missile," as reported by Kyodo News, based on statements from the Japanese Defence Ministry.
Furthermore, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has directed the country's space agency to finalize preparations for the launch of Pyongyang's first military reconnaissance satellite, as reported by the Korean Central News Agency. The alert issued by Pyongyang also included three maritime hazard zones where objects may fall, two to the west of the Korean Peninsula and one to the east of the Philippines, but these areas are not within Japan's exclusive economic zone.
Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea, Ri Pyong Chol, highlighted the importance of the military reconnaissance satellite for tracking and monitoring the military activities of the United States and its allies in real-time. Ri expressed the need to expand reconnaissance and information capabilities and enhance defensive and offensive weapons in response to what North Korea perceives as reckless military acts by the US and South Korea.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized that Japan considers the launch of a rocket carrying a satellite as equivalent to a ballistic missile test, based on historical precedent. Kishida warned that proceeding with the plan would be in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, as sanctions have been imposed on North Korea for its weapons-related actions in accordance with these resolutions.