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Huge crowds gather in North Korean capital to celebrate rocket launch

By Paula Hancocks, CNN
December 14, 2012 -- Updated 0426 GMT (1226 HKT)
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 successful launch of a long-range rocket this week that put a satellite in orbit.

A special broadcast on state-run television showed vast crowds of soldiers and civilians standing in neat ranks clapping and cheering as officials made congratulatory speeches.

The rocket launch Wednesday took place sooner than many observers expected and was met with international condemnation, as it was widely believed to be 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 its young leader, Kim Jong Un.

North Korea launch sparks global anger

The success, after years of failed attempts, stoked fresh concerns among world leaders about the North's missile and nuclear programs.

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