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North Korea Satellite: Narrative Intelligence

June 2, 2023Lindsey Magee

Unsuccessful Satellite Launch: North Korea Plans Another Attempt


The recent launch of North Korea’s first military spy satellite resulted in failure, raising global speculation about ensuing impacts. Leader Kim Jong Un announced a second attempt to launch shortly after, despite growing tensions with the United States and South Korea. 

Rolling Updates

Competing Narratives

U.S. Media

  • North Korea described space-based reconnaissance as crucial for monitoring U.S. military exercises with South Korea.
  • Speculation about the condition of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un due to his heavy smoking, apparent weight gain, and family history of cardiovascular problems.
  • South Korea recovered a piece believed to be part of the crashed North Korean rocket.
  • President Biden spoke about the unacceptability of a nuclear attack by North Korea against the U.S. or allies during a joint press conference with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

Pacific Region Media

  • Pyongyang does not have a functioning satellite in space, and developing a military spy satellite is a top priority for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
  • Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un's sister, mentioned that North Korea will soon put a military spy satellite into orbit.
  • There are concerns about potential violations of UN sanctions and previous satellite launches being disguised tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
  • Japan puts its ballistic missile defenses on alert and warns of shooting down any projectile threatening its territory.
  • Japan is preparing to intercept any North Korean missile entering its territory.
  • North Korea informed Japan of its intention to launch a satellite between May 31 and June 11.
  • North Korea is constructing a satellite launch pad with new urgency.
  • North Korea's rocket experienced an abnormal flight before falling into the waters, according to South Korea's military. 

Insights from Kudzu Narrative Intelligence

  • The most prominent narrative themes amplified by these sources in U.S. media include:
    • North Korea Spy Satellite
    • South Korea Commercial Satellite
    • North Korea Rocket Failure
    • South Korea Surveillance System
    • Kim Jong Un Weight Gain
  • This story reached its peak in the media on May 31st. 
  • Left-center bias prevails with 110 sources in U.S. Media, compared to right-center bias with only 69 sources. 

Note: Kudzu Narrative Intelligence briefs update every few hours. Very likely, the Narrative Analysis data visualization depicted in the graphic above will have changed as well.

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