North Korea’s Spy Satellite Launch Ends In Failure

1st Jun 2023
North Korea’s Spy Satellite Launch Ends In Failure

1st June update: The launch of North Korea’s spy satellite failed after the carrier rocket’s second stage malfunctioned. We will continue to update this article as new information emerges.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) recently detailed Kim inspecting the country’s first military reconnaissance satellite, which has purportedly been given the go-ahead for a future launch. The satellite is the most recent move by North Korea to take aim at the US and South Korea’s intelligence relationship, in what Kim called: “confrontational moves”. The leader also emphasised how the satellite is a “right to national sovereignty and self-defence” against alleged escalating military threats from the two countries. 

North Korea’s spy satellite launch fails due to second-stage malfunction

According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Chollima-1 rocket crashed into the sea roughly 200 kilometres west of South Korea’s southwestern island of Eocheong after taking off from a launch site in Tongchang-ri in North Pyongan Province at 5:29 p.m. Eastern 30th May. The flight lasted roughly six minutes, according to the report.

Source: Gangwon-do Minilbo (

The rocket flew south, delivering Malligyong-1, the North’s first military reconnaissance satellite. Because the rocket and satellite are spanking new, their capacity and other technical data remain unknown. However, some information is anticipated to emerge as the South Korean military recovers bits of the launch vehicle near the accident site, where China and South Korea’s exclusive economic zones intersect.

The military released images of debris recovered from the sea, including a big cylindrical item attached to a buoy.

Source: Gangwon-do Minilbo (

The South Korean military said around an hour after the rocket took off that it “fell into the waters after an abnormal flight.” The North then made an official declaration about the launch failure.

Despite the failure, the launch drew international condemnation since launching a satellite by the nuclear-armed North violates U.N. Security Council resolutions that prohibit the country from executing any launch using ballistic technology. In a statement issued, the White House branded the launch a “brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions.”

Kim Jong-un’s Meeting With His Satellite Committee

KCNA published blurred photos of a meeting with Kim Jong-un’s “non-permanent satellite launch preparatory committee” on 16th May. Kim has now reportedly ordered his officials to prepare to launch the satellite. However, a launch is not expected anytime soon due to ongoing works on North Korea’s far from completed  spaceport. 

KCNA said: “after acquainting himself in detail with the work of the committee, [Kim] inspected the military reconnaissance satellite No 1, which is ready for loading after undergoing the final general assembly check and space environment test.” 

Blurred Images Hiding The New Satellite 

North Korean Leader, Kim Jung-un, inspecting North Korea’s first reconnaissance satellite: Credit KCNA

The blurred images have made it tricky to uncover what the satellite is specifically, but it appears to be a polygonal cylinder wrapped in gold foil insulation with solar panels.

Moves to Increase North Korea’s Defences

In 2021, Kim outlined the country’s defence strategies, with the reconnaissance satellite being a key pillar. In December 2022, North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration reported that an important final stage test had been finalised and that the development of the satellite would be completed by April 2023. A planned launch date is yet to be set. The unveiling came a week after Kim launched his new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile.

Comments From The West

Justin Trudeau addressing South Korean parliament: Credit Justin Trudeau – Prime Minister of Canada (YouTube channel)

South Korean experts say that North Korea would struggle to complete satellite reconnaissance with their technology without assistance from China or Russia. 

Conversely, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently addressed South Korea’s parliament, pledging to ramp up defences to mitigate threats to Canada’s national security in response to the North Korean satellite. 

South Korea and the US have also increased security through joint exercises with stealth jets and advanced US strategic assets. North Korea rebutted by calling the drills a run-through for invasion and war simulation.

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