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North Korea launches missile

Most in South Korea not very worried about the latest rocket.

South Koreans in Seoul enjoy a fine spring day, apparently unconcerned by the news that North Korea launched a missile earlier on April 5, 2009. (Jiyeon Lee/GlobalPost)

 SEOUL, South Korea — People munched on sandwiches under the sun and enjoyed the cherry blossoms as they strolled around the streets of this capital on Sunday, barely disturbed by the fact that North Korea fired a long-range missile earlier in the morning.

The fine weather proved good for both South and North Koreans, as most believe Pyongyang had been deterred by strong winds the previous day from launching what it calls a communications satellite.

Most South Koreans were aware of the news coming from its neighboring enemy. They are not quite indifferent to the news of what happens in the secretive state, but people have learned to live with the nature of North Korea, having experienced several missile tests already and even a nuclear test conducted in the North a few years ago. The streets of Seoul remained calm.

But not all can take a step back and calmly watch Pyongyang going about its ways.

The South Korean government and media were on their toes as the minutes inched towards the opening of the window North Korea had given to the rest of the world for its launch, 11 a.m. local time.

Red flags were raised 30 minutes after the opening with first reports of the launch coming from Japan that was mostly concerned debris from the rocket might fall on its territory. The first-stage of the rocket fell into the sea east of the Korean Peninsula before the second-stage booster dropped into the Pacific Ocean 13 minutes after the launch.

North Korean state-media announced that its satellite successfully entered into orbit. Adding that the launch is “a fruit born from the battle to take the nation’s space science technology to the next level.”

However U.S. and South Korean military confirmed that no such device ever made it into orbit.

The U.S., South Korea and Tokyo condemned the act calling it “provocative” and “reckless.” All three countries had warned against the launch, saying they would take the issue before the U.N. Security Council.

Analysts say it is unlikely that North Korea will face sanctions from the international body as Russia and China are not expected to support such action. Pyongyang had earlier warned it would pull out of the six-party talks, aiming to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, if the U.N. took such actions against it.

Despite confirmations from the U.S. and South Korea saying the satellite did not make it into orbit, the launching of the missile is still likely to boost North Korea’s efforts to export rockets to other countries, one of the many reasons Pyongyang conducted such an act.