North Korea launched a long range rocket on Wednesday morning, defying warnings from the UN and Washington, according to South Korean officials.
The rocket was fired from the west coast Sohae Space Centre launch pad close to 10am local time, according to South Korean defence officials.
It is believed that the launch was successful, risking further tension between North Korea and the international community.
According to the Japanese government, the rocket - carrying a satellite intended for orbit - passed over Okinawa shortly after launch, and was not intercepted.
A man watches TV screen showing a North Korean TV anchorwoman announcing the success of a rocket launch in South Korea
The foreign secretary, William Hague, said the launch was a "clear violation" of UN Security Council resolutions against the country's testing ballistic missile technology, while the US said it was called the launch a "highly provocative act that threatens regional security"
Hague said on Wednesday morning: "I strongly condemn the DPRK's (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) satellite launch today. This provocative act will increase tensions in the region.
"I deplore the fact that the DPRK has chosen to prioritise this launch over improving the livelihood of its people."
Religious figures in Seoul rally to denounce the launch on Wednesday
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon also said he "deplores" the launch, according to his spokesperson.
"It is a clear violation of Security Council resolution 1874, in which the Council demanded that the DPRK not conduct any launch using ballistic missile technology," he said in a statement.
North Korea announced their plans to test a rocket at the beginning of December, at the time interpreted as a deliberate attempt to rattle the United Nations and the Obama administration.
It had also been suggested that the country planned its latest launch to stoke controversy in South Korea - which holds its presidential elections on 19 December.
North Korea, under Kim Jong Un, has pledged to bolster its nuclear arsenal unless Washington scraps what Pyongyang calls a hostile policy.