The South Korean government for its first time officially admitted that the rocket fired by the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) last week followed the trajectory of a satellite, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency said on Tuesday.
"The rocket launched by the North followed the trajectory of a satellite and later separated in its final two stages before crashing into the Pacific Ocean,"South Korean defense minister Lee Sang-hee said during a National Assembly hearing, when asked to clarify if the launched rocket was a satellite or a missile.
It is the first official remarks of a top South Korean government official to acknowledge the DPRK rocket followed a satellite trajectory and the stages from the rocket made separation, according to Yonhap.
The minister's remarks were interpreted as having officially acknowledged the rocket as a non-missile item, as South Korean officials had kept saying that the trajectory of the rocket could help clarify whether the attempted rocket was a satellite or a Taepodong-2 missile, Yonhap added.
South Korean officials had been sparing words on the launch, only saying that the DPRK "seems to" attempted a satellite launch.
South Korea and the United States had also declined to clarify on whether the last stages came apart before crashing, only saying that the first stage landed in the East Sea while the payload fell with the last stage.