PYONGYANG, North Korea, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to launch more satellites into space after this week's rocket launch that led to international condemnation.
The official Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim "stressed the need" for the satellite launches "to develop the country's science, technology, and economy," Voice of America reported.
North Koreans gathered at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang Friday to celebrate the launch of a rocket Westerners believe was a long-range missile.
State-run television aired the celebration, reporting that about 150,000 North Koreans congregated in the plaza and nearby areas, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.
On Wednesday, North Korea successfully fired what it said was a rocket carrying a "working satellite," but which the international community condemned as a test-firing of technology used to make long-range ballistic missiles. The U.N. Security Council condemned the launch as a "clear violation" of sanctions barring North Korea from carrying out missile or nuclear tests.
"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 chief in the propaganda bureau, told the crowd.
Yonhap said neither the North Korean leader nor his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, attended the rally led by party official Mun Kyong Dok.
Official media said the country's leader was in the missile command center to observe the rocket launch.
"The dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un ... gave a final written order regarding the launch of the second version of Kwangmyongsong-3 to the Korean Committee of Space Technology at 8 a.m. [Wednesday]," the Korean Central News Agency said, reporting that Kim "visited the General Satellite Control and Command Center at 9 a.m., 1 hour before the launch."
"Kim Jong Un learned about the preparations for the launch and issued an order on the launch and keenly observed the whole processes of the launch," the report said.
It said Kim also expressed "great satisfaction over the successful launch of the satellite by our scientists and technicians and highly estimated their feats."
Just after the launch, North Korea justified its action saying it was for peaceful and scientific purposes.
"No matter what others say, we will continue to exercise our legitimate right to launch satellites and thus actively contribute to the economic construction and improvement of people's living standards," a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
Observers said this week's launch was meant to coincide with Monday's first anniversary of the death of Kim's father, former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.