The Korea Herald


N. Korean spy satellite seems to have entered into orbit: Seoul military

By Yonhap

Published : Nov. 22, 2023 - 20:50

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South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik (Yonhap) South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik (Yonhap)

North Korea's military spy satellite appears to have entered into orbit, but more time would be needed to determine if it is operating properly, Seoul's military said Wednesday.

The North launched the Malligyong-1 satellite from the country's west coast late Tuesday in its third attempt this year, claiming it has successfully entered into orbit.

"After a comprehensive analysis of its flight track data and other signs, the satellite is assessed to have entered into orbit," the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a text message sent to reporters.

"However, determining whether the satellite is working properly will take time as additional analysis is required under coordination between South Korea and the United States and relevant agencies."

Defense Minister Shin Won-sik backed the assessment, saying the launch appears to be successful but noted that a final assessment needs to be made with US officials.

"The first, second and third stage separations took place normally, and looking at the flight environment data, such as its speed and altitude, we are putting weight on it entering into orbit," Shin said in a KBS radio interview.

Earlier Wednesday, the North's state media claimed the satellite took pictures of US military bases in Guam and sent them to Pyongyang, adding that it will officially begin its mission on Dec. 1.

Shin downplayed the report, calling it "exaggerated."

"Even if it enters into normal orbit, it takes a substantial amount of time to conduct normal reconnaissance missions," he said.

Shin said it would take at least three days for South Korean and US officials to determine whether the satellite is working properly, while apparently crediting Russia for North Korea's launch success.

"In the first and second attempt, (the rocket) crashed due to engine issues, but the engine was successful this time," he said. "Putin's offer to help appears to not have been empty words."

In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters Russia would help North Korea build satellites before holding a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Far East.

The latest launch marked the North's third satellite launch attempt this year, following two failures in May and August, respectively.

In response to the launch, South Korea suspended a clause of a 2018 inter-Korean military agreement, which calls for a no-fly zone near the border.

Shin said the move resolves limitations imposed on South Korea's aerial surveillance capabilities in the area, and vowed to prepare for more suspensions of the accord if North Korea continues to stage provocations on the frontline or violates the agreement.