North Korea fired a long-range rocket on Wednesday, days before the first anniversary of its former ruler's death, magnifying the threat posed by the nuclear-armed state and provoking outrage from the US.
Regional US allies were also angered and even China expressed concern at the successful launch by its wayward communist ally - while also calling on all sides to avoid "stoking the flames".
The launch triggered plans for an emergency session of the UN Security Council, which has imposed round after round of sanctions against North Korea over its ballistic missile and nuclear programmes.
North Korea insisted the mission was not a banned intercontinental missile test but was designed to place a scientific satellite in orbit, and said it had achieved all its objectives.
"The satellite has entered the orbit as planned," Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a statement repeated later in a triumphant special broadcast on state television.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was believed to be keen that the launch fall close to the first anniversary of the death of his father and former leader Kim Jong-Il on December 17.
KCNA hailed it as a "ground-breaking" event that paid tribute to the late Kim's vision and leadership.
A previous launch of the same Unha-3 rocket in April had ended in embarrassing failure, with the carrier exploding shortly after take-off.
Success this time carries profound security implications, marking a major advance in North Korea's ability to mate an intercontinental ballistic missile capability with its nuclear weapons programme.
In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor issued a scathing statement that accused North Korea of once again tearing up the international rulebook.
"North Korea's launch today... is a highly provocative act that threatens regional security, directly violates United Nations Security Council resolutions ... and undermines the global non-proliferation regime," he said.
Unusually China - North Korea's sole major ally and its biggest trade partner and aid provider - responded relatively quickly with a statement that pressed the country to abide by UN Security Council resolutions.
India terms rocket launch as 'unwarranted'
India condemned North Korea's long-range rocket launch on Wednesday and said the action was "unwarranted and will impact peace in the region".
"India expresses its concern at the launch of a rocket... in violation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1874. India calls on DPRK to refrain from such actions," a foreign ministry statement.
"This unwarranted action... has adversely impacted peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula," it added about the launch which provoked global outrage and triggering plans for an emergency session of the UN Security Council.
However, earlier on Wednesday, India successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable "Agni I" missile from a site off the eastern coast of the country.