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South Korea’s formidable Military Industrial Complex now churns out submarines, missiles and space rockets

South Korea President Moon Jae at Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition 2021 (Image courtesy: Twitter/@TheBlueHouseENG)

South Korea launched its first indigenous space rocket successfully on Thursday, following Seoul's successful effort to build submarines and missiles. The country, which is facing a next door security challenge  from neighbouring North Korea, is also building an aircraft carrier.

President Moon Jae In praised the rocket launch, saying: "Although [the launch] failed to achieve its objectives perfectly, it was an excellent accomplishment for a first launch", reports The Guardian.

The 200-ton liquid fuel rocket Nuri lifted off from the Naro Space Center on the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula on Thursday evening. Though the rocket launch was successful, the 1.5-ton dummy satellite could not be launched into its orbit.

"Enabling the dummy satellite to safely go into orbit has yet to be solved," President Moon said in a speech at the launch site. He added: "It has been 12 years since we embarked on this Nuri development project, and we just need to go one step further".

Japanese news agency Kyodo reports that the latest Nuri launch comes as South Korea seeks to establish low-cost, high-precision satellite-launching technology so that it can expand into the space industry.

South Korea has embarked upon major plans for its space programme. Nuri the rocket will be launched again in May. Also, Seoul plans to land on the moon by 2030.

Seoul is in the middle of grand plans that are fructifying steadily. In a bid to outdo North Korea–which remains a perpetual threat, it is putting into action a strategic vision to develop its own weapons.

The rocket launch happened in quick succession after the unveiling of a home-made submarine and the firing of a Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM). Seoul launched its SLBM in a fiery response to
adversary North Korea's back-to-back missile launches including one that was fired from a train.

By firing a self-made SLBM, is South Korea telling US that it is ready to fight its own battles?

Seoul has also embarked upon building a modest-size indigenous aircraft carrier for which it plans to procure the American F-35 fighters which require a small runway deck  and can land vertically.In the neighbourhood, China has two  aircraft carriers while Tokyo operates a helicopter carrier. Thailand too has one which is mostly used for ceremonial purposes.

South Korea seeks aircraft carrier amid Indo-Pacific turmoil

South Korea's march towards self-made weapon technologies comes at a time when China and ally North Korea have created turmoil in the Korean peninsula. North Korea has conducted a series of missile tests,ringing off alarm bells in Seoul and Tokyo. 

China has been aggressively parading its navy and air force in the region with a view to undermining Taiwan and to take over the entire South China Sea (SCS). The Chinese maneuvers have caused unease among
Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, The Philippines and Brunei as the SCS waters are host to important and busy global shipping routes.

With the development of these weapons, South Korea is not just making itself self-reliant in weapons' technologies but also ensuring a deterrent in a hostile neighbourhood.

Also Read: North Korea fires hypersonic missile, officially kicks off an arms race with Seoul and Tokyo