03:03 - Source: CNN
U.S. 'still assessing' N. Korea launch

Story highlights

Vast crowds of soldiers and civilians applaud speeches by officials

A controversial rocket launch by North Korea this week put a satellite in orbit

It was a public relations victory for the North's young leader, Kim Jong Un

Seoul, South Korea CNN  — 

North Korea held a huge rally Friday in the center of its capital, Pyongyang, to celebrate the launch of a long-range rocket this week that put a satellite in orbit and provoked international condemnation.

A special broadcast on state-run television showed crowds of soldiers and civilians standing in neat ranks, clapping and cheering as officials made congratulatory speeches praising the regime’s ruling dynasty.

The rocket launch Wednesday took place sooner than many observers expected and was criticized by many countries since it was widely seen as a cover for testing ballistic missile technology that North Korea has been forbidden from using by the United Nations.

Putting the satellite in orbit was a technological breakthrough for the secretive North Korean regime, and a public relations victory for its young leader, Kim Jong Un. North Korea claims the launch was carried out for peaceful purposes.

North Korea’s achievement of putting an object in orbit, after years of failed attempts, stoked fresh concerns among world leaders about the reclusive state’s missile and nuclear programs.