North Korean spy satellite team attend banquet with Kim Jong-un and daughter Ju Ae

Last Updated on November 24, 2023 12:00 pm

The North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, has celebrated a “new era of a space power” with his family including daughter Ju Ae and the scientists who put the North’s first spy satellite into orbit.

Pyongyang’s launch of the Malligyong-1 on Tuesday was its third attempt after failures in May and August.

Images released by Pyongyang showed Kim praising scientists and space programme workers at the National Aerospace Technology Administration (Nata) while accompanied by Ju Ae.

Wearing a black leather coat, a grinning Kim was seen waving at the uniformed workers, all of whom appeared to be enthusiastically cheering him and Ju Ae.

State media released images of Kim enjoying a reception with Nata workers, top military and political officials, his daughter, and his wife, Ri Sol-ju.

Kim’s family members and other reception attendees were seen wearing matching T-shirts that said “Nata” in English.

All of the attendees “enthusiastically cheered expressing thanks to the great father who finally ensured the successful launch”, KCNA said.

Kim showed “such paternal love for the space scientists”, the state mouthpiece added.

Within hours of the launch, North Korea claimed that its leader was already reviewing images of US military bases in Guam.

No such images have come to light publicly.

The launch was “a full-fledged exercise of the right to self-defence”, Kim said during a visit to the national space agency, according to Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency.

The spy satellite would help protect the North from “dangerous and aggressive moves of the hostile forces”, he said, adding that it had pioneered “a new era of a space power”.

South Korea confirmed the launch was successful but said it was too early to determine if the satellite was functioning as claimed by the North.

After Tuesday’s launch, South Korea partially suspended a five-year-old military accord with the North and deployed “surveillance and reconnaissance assets” to the border.

Pyongyang responded by calling Seoul’s moves “reckless” and said it would also suspend the deal in full, adding that it “will never be bound” by the agreement again.

Experts have said putting a working spy satellite into orbit would improve North Korea’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, particularly over South Korea, and provide crucial data in any military conflict.

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