S. Koreans brush off 'attention-seeking' rocket launch

North Korea's rocket launch on Friday triggered international alarm but ordinary South Koreans who have long lived under such threats from their neighbour gave a restrained and cynical response.

The rocket disintegrated soon after blastoff, and the North's official media admitted it had failed to put a satellite into orbit.

The North claimed the launch was for peaceful research purposes, but Western critics said it was a disguised ballistic missile test in breach of United Nations resolutions.

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"They are just so stubborn, trying to gain attention from the outside world," Induk University professor Kim Jong-Boo, 50, told AFP in a rush-hour street interview.

"It's not the first time they've breached the UN resolution, and this time, they will have to take full responsibility for what they've done", he said.

Jun So-Min, a 23-year-old college student in Seoul, described the regime as "attention desperadoes" and agreed Pyongyang would have gained nothing from Friday's launch which followed two previous failed attempts in 1998 and 2009.

"I think they crave for global attention, but the influence is minimal and I absolutely don't think they'll achieve what they aimed for," she said.

College student Jung Sang-Jun, 26, agreed with the Seoul government which condemned the launch as a "provocative act" hurting regional peace and security.

"North Korea launching rockets poses a grave threat to the security of South Korea and neighbouring countries," he said.

"They've always done things their own way, and today they've launched the rocket regardless of how much we tried to hold peaceful dialogues," Jung said.

Internet reaction was less restrained.

"North Korea just threw away money that could feed all their people for a year along with life-time food aid into the sea," a Twitter user writing under the name Torresrobbins said.

"Debris falling into our sea... Are they crazy?" said another user, BBokida.

Some reacted angrily to the launch on portal site Nate.

"North Korea is our main enemy. Once they put nuclear weapons into the 'rocket' we are all as good as dead," Lee Jae-Sung said.

"They just fired one trillion won ($880 million) worth of fireworks," said another user, Oh Chang-Hoon.

South Korean markets also remained calm and financial officials said the market was strong enough to withstand any shock from the North's third rocket launch.

"The government will try its best to avoid any anxieties in the financial market," the finance ministry said in a statement, adding the government was responding "calmly but firmly" to the launch.

South Korean stocks rose 1.03 percent to 2,007.17 shortly after noon.

Bank of Korea governor Kim Choong-Soo said the launch would have a limited negative impact on South Korea's economy. "We never overlooked geopolitical risks... but our market was not affected."

by Nam You-Sun © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Apr 13, 2012