N.Korea Launches Long-Range Rocket

North Korea unexpectedly fired a long-range rocket from a launch pad in Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province at 9:51 a.m. on Wednesday, despite announcing earlier that it needed repairs.

A government official here said the rocket appeared on a radar screen on a South Korea Aegis destroyer deployed in the West Sea right after the launch.

The first-stage rocket dropped west of the Byeonsan Peninsula, and an object presumed to have been the second-stage booster fell in the sea near the Philippines.

South Korea and the U.S. are analyzing the trajectory, and a military spokesman here said preliminary analysis "shows that the rocket fell within the target range" and the launch "seems to have succeeded."

Meanwhile, the Japanese government said the missile passed over islands near Okinawa and some debris fell off into the sea off the Philippines around 10:05 a.m.

The launch came despite Pyongyang's announcement over the weekend that it would extend the launch window by a week until Dec. 29 due to a technical glitch.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 12, 2012 11:45 KST