North Korea Wants to 'Conquer Space' and Plant Flag on Moon

North Korea Space Moon Flag
North Korean space officials said Wednesday that they hope to plant a flag on the moon and put satellites into orbit. Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea is working on a plan to put advanced satellites into space and plant the country's flag on the moon, in a bold move counter to international sanctions.

A senior official at North Korea's space agency, speaking to the Associated Press, said that Pyongyang plans to have satellites in orbit by 2020 and its flag on the moon within ten years. He added that international sanctions on the pariah state will not deter its ambitions for its space programme.

"Even though the U.S. and its allies try to block our space development, our aerospace scientists will conquer space and definitely plant the flag of the DPRK on the moon," said Hyon Kwang Il, director of the scientific research department of North Korea's National Aerospace Development Administration.

North Korea's third-generation leader Kim Jong-un authorized the five-year programme, Hyon said, as he continues to order further ballistic missile tests that escalate tensions with the country's neighbors. On Wednesday, the North Korean military test-fired its fourth ballistic missile in two weeks.

"We are planning to develop the earth observation satellites and to solve communications problems by developing geostationary satellites. All of this work will be the basis for the flight to the moon," Hyon said on July 28.

North Korea has grown increasingly agitated after the U.S. and South Korea announced that they would install a missile defense system on the Korean Peninsula in reaction to Pyongyang's continued test. North Korea threatened a "physical response."

The country routinely issues threats to its southern neighbor with bellicose rhetoric but rarely follows through.

North Korea remains isolated in the international community, with neighboring China acting as its only partial diplomatic ally, and sanctions have damaged its economy, leaving thousands in poverty and Kim's regime unable to fund a military of might.