A U.S. official tells NPR North Korea has fired a long-range rocket. The launch defies international warnings against a launch widely seen as a provocation.
Officials tell NPR they believe the launch may have failed.
South Korea's Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters in a nationally televised news conference that the rocket was fired at 7:39 a.m. local time.
He said officials were trying to determine whether it was a success. He provided no further details, and declined to say how South Korea confirmed the launch in the west coast hamlet of Tongchang-ri.
There was no word in Pyongyang about the launch, its third attempt to send a satellite into space since 1998.
North Korea had announced it would send a three-stage rocket mounted with a satellite as part of celebrations honoring national founder Kim Il Sung, whose 100th birthday they are celebrating Sunday.
NPR's Tom Gjelten contributed to this report, which contains material from The Associated Press.