North Korea has, for the first time, successfully launched a rocket carrying a satellite – despite international condemnation.
There are accusations that Pyongyang is using the launch as a chance to test out technology that would allow the long range firing of nuclear warheads.
However, the secretive state insists the launch was only for a weather satellite.
People on the streets of the capital celebrated the event, including dancer Mun Su-Kyong, who praised current leader Kim Jong Un and his grandfather Kim Il Sung, who was the first head of state and said that she wanted to “boast to the world”.
The response from China, North Korea’s closest ally, has been mixed. Beijing has expressed regret, and is urging dialogue and a careful international reaction.
Even on the streets of the Chinese capital, people are cautious about the development.
One Beijing resident said: “It is both good and bad. The good thing is North Korea has been a good friend for a long time, since the Korean War until now.
“The bad thing is North Korea is very close to China, and the rocket launch could be dangerous to us,” he explained.
Japan immediately requested UN security council consultations on the launch and pledged to intercept the missile should it intrude on Japanese territory.
For the past few years, mainstream Japanese politicians have been seriously discussing acquiring offensive weapons to combat North Korea’s missile threat.
Pyongyang’s actions have caused a flurry of responses in Seoul, with South Korea’s president
holding an emergency national security meeting, the foreign minister warning of grave consequences and protests against North Korea taking place.