South Korean TV Erases Japanese Flag From H-IIA Rocket

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    A couple days ago I blogged about how a Japanese HII-A rocket had successfully carried a South Korean satellite into space.

    Japanese media reports about the launch showed that the streets in the town near Tanegashima Space Center were lined with Japanese and Korean flags. Local businesses put up signs welcoming Korean visitors.

    It was a great opportunity to show how Japan and Korea can work together. However, the Korean media’s portrayal of the launch has annoyed some Japanese netizens. It seems that Korea’s infamous anti-Japanese sentiment has once again reared its ugly head.

    A TV report from South Korea’s Arirang TV proudly states, “it is now 20 years since Korea put its first satellite into orbit, and now, Korea’s third multipurpose satellite, Arirang-3, is ready for launch. ” Their computer animated portrayal of the launch has removed the Japanese flag and “NIPPON” letters from the rocket (skip to 3:00 to view the CG):


    Like the other programs on Arirang TV, it is meant to advertise the greatness of Korea to English-speaking viewers. Having the Arirang-3 launched into space on a Japanese-looking rocket might interfere with the message of the program.

    The markings that clearly identify the rocket as Japanese were wiped out of existence. The Mitsubishi logo and name have been left in place, but few English-speaking viewers would be able to read the kanji “三菱重工” (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries).

    In a later section of the Arirang TV report, the satellite is shown entering orbit. A Korean flag and “KOREA” have been added to the white tip of the rocket:

    From the available images of the real rocket, it would appear that this “KOREA” marking is a fabrication.

    Having taken the trouble to copy so many other details of the rocket, it seems highly unlikely that Arirang TV simply forgot to include the Japanese markings. This was probably part of a conscious effort to make viewers think that Korea is not relying on Japanese technology.

    Note: In the name of giving credit where credit is due, it should be mentioned that some of the Arirang-3 satellite’s impressive capabilities are largely thanks to technology South Korea purchased from Astrium, a European aerospace company.

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