The much-vaunted launch of the North Korea's latest rocket has ended in failure, causing considerable international embarrassment for Pyongyang.
Two minutes after lift-off, the Unha-3 rocket reportedly exploded in flight and plunged into the Yellow Sea between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula.
Despite the failure, the launch drew international condemnation amid accusations from Washington, Tokyo and Seoul that the rocket, supposedly built to put a weather satellite in orbit, was in fact a ballistic missile test.
The rocket was fired at 11.39pm on Thursday (7.39am local time) from a launch pad in the west coast town of Tongchang-ri, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Friday.
In an rare moment of honesty, North Korean state TV, acknowledged the satellite's failure to enter orbit. "Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure," added the Korean central news agency.
Shortly after the launch, American officials confirmed the launch had failed, with White House spokesman Jay Carney criticising the state for its "provocative action".
"Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch, North Korea's provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments," he said.
"While this action is not surprising given North Korea's pattern of aggressive behaviour, any missile activity by North Korea is of concern to the international community."
Disapproval also came from the G8 foreign ministers meeting in Washington, who released a joint statement accusing the regime of violating UN Security Council resolutions. The statement also called on the country to abandon its nuclear weapons and its "existing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes".
"Sharing the view that the launch undermines regional peace and stability, we call on the DPRK [North Korea] to abstain from further launches using ballistic missile technology or other actions which aggravate the situation on the Korean Peninsula," read the statement.
"We are ready to consider, with others, taking measures responding to all activities of the DPRK that violate UN Security Council Resolutions, and calling for appropriate response by the United Nations Security Council. "
At the time of the launch in Pyongyang, state television was broadcasting a video of popular folk tunes.
North Korea had hoped the launch would be seen as a show of strength amid persistent economic hardship as Kim Jong Un solidifies power following the death of his father, long-time leader Kim Jong-Il, four months ago.
The country had invited dozens on international journalists to observe the launch and other celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the country's founder Kim Il-Sung on Sunday.
Victor Cha, former director for Asia policy in the US National Security Council, said: "It blows a big hole in the birthday party. It's terribly embarrassing for the North."
Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement on Friday morning he was "deeply concerned" about North Korea firing the long-range rocket in defiance of international warnings.
Mr Hague said the country's ambassador would be summoned to the Foreign Office later today on Friday discuss concern over the actions in the face of international condemnation.