North Korea, an international pariah state known equally for its reckless nuclear program and its population's mass starvation, announced today that it plans to launch a satellite into space later this month. Despite its hobbled economy and diplomatic isolation, this won't be the first satellite launch for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
They claimed success with a rocket launch in April 2012, though it was a separate launch in December 2012 that put a satellite in space, if only briefly, before it tumbled back down to earth. Following last month's claimed test of a hydrogen bomb, their new launch may demonstrate a new technological success, though it is just as likely to sustain fears about an eventual nuclear-capable missile in Kim Jong-un's hands.
Scientific space programs have long given cover for missile development. North Korea is hardly alone in this, though their failures are remarkable (and the frequent subject of satire). Some of this has to do with North Korea's hyperbolic presentation, which can bury signs of real technological progress in hour-long propaganda videos. Taking it seriously, the United States urged the United Nations to condemn the launch, and Japan is casually deploying anti-missile rockets in downtown Tokyo.