Wednesday (June 22nd): Yoon shoots for the stars!

Yoon Suk-yeol
Yoon Suk-yeol

Name? Yoon Suk-yeol

Westphalian identity? South Korean

Age? 61

Why is he in the news? Yesterday, South Korea successfully launched its first domestically built rocket, nicknamed Nuri, into space where it placed a payload into orbit. After a failed test last October, President Yoon Suk-yeol is ‘over the moon’ to see a successful launch.

Why do we care? Yoon’s South Korea is now the seventh country in the world to place a satellite weighing more than a tonne into orbit. Joining South Korea’s ally the United States, and regional competitors China, Japan and India, President Yoon has effectively strengthened South Korea’s efforts to catch up with other advanced countries in space development. This increases the chances for President Yoon to join the Quad.

Why should you care? Launching satellites into the earth’s orb has become a bit of a competition, not to say space race. Because every satellite needs a spot when circling the earth, however, there are no unlimited spots in earth’s orbit. Owning satellites allows a country better control over internet access and communications, hence the increased interest in space. Thus, you should care 7/10 about countries competing for control of (depending on where you live) your internet access.

Who else cares? Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida cares about South Korea’s industrial and military potential as he seeks to increase security cooperation between Tokyo and Seoul amidst an increasingly aggressive Beijing and increasingly bold Pyongyang. In particular, Prime Minister Kishida is anticipating a closer relationship with Seoul under President Yoon in comparison to the previously fraught relations between the two East Asian countries under former President Moon.

Any further comments? Although South Korea has sent a number of satellites into space since the 1990s, ‘Nuri’ marks the first satellite to be launched from both a domestic launch site and aboard a rocket built solely by South Korean technology. As President Yoon stated, paving “the road to space from the Republic of Korea.”