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Seoul citizens express regrets over N. Korea's rocket launch
SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korean civic organizations and citizens expressed regrets over North Korea's rocket launch and denounced Seoul's ineptness in information gathering on Wednesday.

   "(I) do not understand how the (South Korean) intelligence agency, which puts so much effort into collecting the local information, did not predict the launch," said Lee Tae-ho, a secretary general of the leading Seoul-based civic group, Peoples' Solidarity for Participatory Democracy.

   "It is regrettable that North Korea, with a record of two previous nuclear tests, has pushed ahead with the rocket launch that threatens the security of the Korean Peninsula and neighboring countries," Lee added.

   The Korea Freedom Federation also denounced the launch, saying that it severely threatens the peace and security of the international community.

   "North Korea launched what it calls a rocket carrying a working satellite," the Seoul-based conservative organization said in a press interview. "The launch, however, is just a trick to develop long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles."

   Kim Sam-soo, an official at the Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice said, "The current administration has been constantly blamed for the absence of information gathering whenever there have been significant movements in the North, such as the rocket launch."

   Kim also hoped that Pyongyang will not carry out another nuclear test, as the launch threatened peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

   Other Seoul citizens have shown surprise over the earlier-than-expected rocket launch.

   "I didn't believe it while watching the breaking story," a 58-year-old Seoul housewife said.

   However, she added, "It is not like the North fired off the rocket without prior notice. The plan was previously announced quite a long time ago," voicing concerns over Seoul's inability to gather information.

   "One of the biggest variables affecting the local stock market is related to the security of the Korean Peninsula," a 30-year-old Seoul market watcher said.

   "The (South Korean) government should not make another mistake like this one in the future," he added.

   Many South Korean Internet users have also voiced concerns over the local security authorities and demanded they step up their security measures.

   "Did the (North) repair the rocket in just one day? I thought I read newspaper articles that the launch was scheduled for the end of this month," a Seoul citizen tweeted.

   "The government apparently has not monitored the situation properly," another Twitter user said, rebuking the launch as "provocative."

   khj@yna.co.kr
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