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N. Koreans jubilant over successful rocket launch
SEOUL, Dec. 14 (Yonhap) -- Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans gathered in Pyongyang to celebrate the country's successful launch of what the international community sees as a long-range missile earlier this week, North Korea's state television showed Friday.

   (North) Korean Central Broadcasting Station, monitored in Seoul, broadcast live the celebratory mass gathering held in the Kim Il-sung Square starting at 11:00 a.m. The television said about 150,000 North Koreans gathered in the plaza and nearby areas.

   Early Wednesday, the North successfully fired off what it claims to be a rocket carrying a "working satellite," a launch which the international community has condemned as a test of rocket technology used to make long-range ballistic missiles.

   Neither North Korean leader Kim Jong-un nor his powerful uncle Jang Song-thaek were among the many top officials attending the event presided over by Mun Kyong-dok, a party secretary.

  


"Accurately orbiting the Unha-3 carrier rocket, a science technology satellite, built with our own ability and technology, is a gift of loyalty to our party, army and comrade Kim Jong-il and a national feat that accomplished the very dying instruction of the general," Kim Ki-nam, a party head for the propaganda bureau, told the crowd.

   Another official also claimed in a speech during the event that Kim Jong-un visited the launch site and helped solve problems facing the rocket launch.

   Similar mass gatherings were organized following the country's previous rocket launches in April and in April 2009.

   The celebratory mood came as the country prepares to mark the first anniversary of late leader Kim Jong-il's death on Dec. 17.

   Since the beginning of this month, North Korean media outlets had been carrying commemorative content about Kim Jong-il, but now it has mostly been replaced by the triumphant celebration of the latest rocket launch.

   pbr@yna.co.kr
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