Ye Olde Chosun—killjoys that they are—are bitching that the successful launch of the Naro-ho rocket doesn’t mean squat since it was done with a liquid fuel stage imported from Russia.
And making it worse, Korea stopped research on liquid fuel stages in 2002. Because of that, Korea doesn’t even have an engine test facility. Which means we’re pretty much still at square one in Korea’s goal to develop an indigenous launch vehicle by 2021. Which sucks.
One prof said if they’d continued developing rocket technology alongside the Naro-ho project (conducted with Russia), they might not have a rocket as good as the Naro-ho, but they’d have something a lot better than North Korea’s Unha 3.
The reason Korea suspended independent development, experts say, is because it failed to realize that no country shares its rocket engine technology. Japan was no exception to this. Its liquid fuel engine technology comes from the United States, but it was provided in “black box” form—that is, you could see the parts, but you couldn’t see how they worked. The Russians did the same thing with the Naro-ho’s first stage. Even the Science and Technology minister hadn’t touched the first stage of the rocket until five days before launch when, in Russian tradition, he “patted the ass” of the rocket as a prayer for success.
Marmot’s Note: Hey, don’t look at me. I don’t work for KAIST.
PS: The Chosun has a great image charting the development of the Korean space program.