An unwelcome but not unexpected development. If not now, then soon North Korea will likely become the tenth country to independently place a satellite in orbit. Is a new Asian space race heating up? If so it will be a complex, multiple series of races among China, India, Japan, Korea and other emerging space powers - as well as the U.S. - driven largely by considerations of national prestige and dual-use technology development.
However, it is curious that foreign journalists were invited to the launch site. This is a first for North Korea as far as I know, and I'm not sure what it indicates other than, perhaps, an understanding by North Korea's leaders of how provocative this launch will be perceived by its neighbors to be, and thus an attempt to show their lack of overt hostile intent. Overt being the operative word. In this launch.
Harbor no illusions about North Korea.
From the BBC:
North Korea has moved into place a long-range rocket for a controversial launch later this month - amid reports it is also planning a nuclear test.