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North Korea rocket launch: World media's shock and condemnation of launch

The White House called it a "highly provocative act that threatens regional security", and China also expressed concern.

The decision by North Korea to launch a long-range rocket has infuriated international powers around the world and isolated Kim Jong Un's wayward communist state.

Critics worldwide suspect North Korea carried out the launch as a ballistic missile test under cover.

And commentators have been quick to condemn the second launch under new leader Kim Jong Un, which directly violated U.N. Security Council resolutions and contravened North Korea's international obligations.

The White House called it a "highly provocative act that threatens regional security", and China also expressed concern.

In the UK, Foreign Secretary William Hague strongly condemned the launch, saying it was a "clear violation" of UN Security Council resolutions.

As well as the international community, the U.S. media did not hold back in their condemnation of the launch.

The Economist declared that Kim Jong Un 'is showing a flair for publicity stunts, albeit defiant and dangerous ones'.

They added: "In the paranoid eyes watching from Pyongyang, its success probably represents a significant ratcheting up of the country’s 'hard power'.

"But it also raises the stakes in the outside world’s dealings with the rogue regime, at a time of new administrations in America and China."

South Korean activists burn anti-North Korean placards during a protest denouncing North Korea's rocket launch …

The Washington Post, meanwhile, argued that North Korea's launch 'showed off an improving weapons program that Washington and its allies have struggled so far to curb, despite heavy international sanctions'.

They also said the launch will be seen by critics of Barack Obama's regime as an opportunity for the White House to 'rethink its strategy and give Pyongyang greater attention'.

Russia added to the global condemnation by declaring that the launch 'flaunts the opinion of the international community, including calls from the Russian side'.

Travellers watch a TV screen broadcasting news about North Korea's rocket launch, at a railway station in Seoul …

Even China, North Korea's only major diplomatic ally, had expressed regret at the launch going ahead after urging the nation not to do so.

Most media organisations in South Korea, Japan, and China reported the launch over an hour before North Korea's state-run news agency KCNA and the national radio station.

TV stations and news outlets said the timing of the launch was 'unexpected', though Xinhua, China's news agency, later defended North Korea's 'right to conduct peaceful exploration' of outer space.