It's not polite to laugh: North Korea defied the world and launched its long-range rocket—and it stayed up all of about 90 seconds. South Korea confirmed a "failure," reports AP, and Reuters adds that the rocket broke into pieces and landed harmlessly in the sea off the western coast of South Korea. "It blows a big hole in the birthday party," says one former US official, referring to the birth centennial of Kim Il Sung. "It's terribly embarrassing for the North."
Pyongyang hasn't said anything yet about the launch, and it will be tricky even for the North to spin this one into a heroic tale of success. The North had insisted that the rocket was to carry a harmless observation satellite, but the US and others called it a thinly disguised test run of military missile technology. (Serious doubts had been raised beforehand about whether it would work.) In addition to the embarrassment, the North now must deal with the diplomatic fallout: The UN Security Council will meet tomorrow to discuss a response. (Read more North Korea stories.)