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[Opinion] Korea-China-Japan Star Wars

Posted March. 28, 2003 22:22,   


We see news on the U.S.-led attack on Iraq everywhere. Newspapers and TV networks are rushing to deliver up-to-date information on the ongoing war. In terms of magnitude, there seems no news that can match what is going on in Iraq. This may be why the news about Japanese launch of spy satellites is hardly drawing people`s attention. When we look into the fact, however, the news carries a lot more implications that it may seem.

Japan launched two spy satellites - one equipped with an optical sensor and the other with synthetic radar. The optical sensor-installed satellite takes shots of objects on the surface like a video camera. The radar satellite monitors objects using signals at night or when the weather is bad. The former boasts clear images of pictures and the latter offers an advantage of around-the-clock monitoring, making a great combination. Japan says that it launched the satellites to keep a close eye on the North. It is not untrue since the country began to develop the satellites after Pyongyang test-fired Daepodong missile in 1998. It is not just North Korea, however, that is now puts under the radar of the Japanese satellites. If it wants, Japan can watch every object in Korean Peninsula that is larger than 1 meter.

China, on its part, plans to launch its first manned spacecraft in October this year. Then the country will be the third country that has a manned spacecraft following the U.S. and Russia. It already successfully completed operations of four unmanned space ships. Sunjeu 4, the fourth one launched in December last year, circled around the earth orbit 108 times, conducting a test of incapacitating American missile defense system, of course to Americans` great surprise. Both China and Japan has their own rocket used to launch a satellite or a spacecraft.

Then, what does this country have? It barely finished a test launch of small liquid booster KSR III in November last year. If the plan goes well as the government expects and we have a launcher for a small satellite by 2005, we will still be far lagging behind China and Japan. It is the reality of the ongoing star wars waged among Korea, China and Japan. The future of those looking down every household from up above the sky and that of those looking up to the sky will no doubt be different. This may be why the government ambitious plan to lead the Northeast Asian era sounds just empty.

Bang Hyung-nam, Editorial Writer, hnbhang@donga.com