North Korea: Spy Satellite Launch Crashes Into Sea

    North Korea: Spy Satellite Launch Crashes Into Sea
    Last updated May 31, 2023
    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


    • North Korea's attempt to launch a military spy satellite on Wednesday failed, with South Korean officials reporting that the rocket crashed into the ocean and the North confirming the aborted attempt.[1]
    • North Korea's state-run news agency KCNA announced soon after the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectile had disappeared from the radar that "the 'Cheollima-1' crashed into the West Sea of Korea as it lost momentum due to abnormal start-up of the two-stage engine after one step separation while flying normally."[2]
    • Shortly after the North confirmed the failed launch, it pledged to make a second attempt as tensions between the two Koreas and the US remains high.[3]
    • South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile flew in an "abnormal" path and fell into the sea about 124 miles (200 km) west of Eocheong island. The South later confirmed that it had "salvaged an object presumed to be part of the 'North Korean space launch vehicle.'"[4]
    • Wednesday's launch triggered momentary evacuation warnings in Japan and South Korea. Both the South and Japan pledged their readiness to handle contingencies.[5]
    • North Korea announced Tuesday that it planned to launch its first military spy satellite. The North reportedly notified the International Maritime Organization of a launch window spanning May 31 and June 11.[6]


    Pro-establishment narrative

    North Korea's satellite launch is a dangerous provocation that cannot be allowed to proceed. A working spy satellite would strengthen Pyongyang's ability to conduct a pre-emptive strike as well as monitor potential incoming threats from the US and South Korea.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    North Korea's satellite program is simply defensive in nature. Pyongyang has a right to exercise its sovereignty and justifiable self-defense in response to the confrontational moves made by Washington and Seoul. A successful launch will help defend North Korea against future attacks by the hegemonic US and South Korea.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 72% chance that Japan Self-Defense Forces will have tested a Tomahawk missile by mid-2027, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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