North Korea rocket launch shows young leader as gambler

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PYONGYANG, North Korea — A triumphant North Korea staged a mass rally of soldiers and civilians today to glorify the country’s young ruler, who took a big gamble this week in sending a satellite into orbit in defiance of international warnings.

Wednesday’s rocket launch came just eight months after a similar attempt ended in an embarrassing public failure, and just under a year after Kim Jong Un inherited power following his father’s death.

The surprising success of the launch may have earned Kim global condemnation, but at home the gamble paid off, at least in the short term. To his people, it made the 20-something Kim appear powerful, capable and determined in the face of foreign adversaries.

Pyongyang says the rocket put a crop and weather monitoring satellite into orbit. Much of the rest of the world sees it as a thinly disguised test of banned long-range missile technology. It could bring a fresh round of U.N. sanctions that would increase his country’s international isolation.

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