Symbolism is important to all societies, but it seems that the more restrictive the society the more important symbolism becomes, and so it's not surprising that North Korea is awash in it. Scheduled on roughly the birthday of Kim Il-sung, the country's founder and the grandfather of its current leader, the launch of "Bright Shining Star 3" was intended to punctuate the formal ascent of Kim Jong-un to the command of North Korea, but the rocket broke apart at an altitude of 94 miles.
Because North Korea has been working to develop the capability to deliver weapons over a long range, most major nations have branded the launch a provocation, and the United Nations is meeting in emergency session to consider the issue. But this will accomplish nothing.
The New York Times calls it a billion-dollar humiliation and a blow to Kim Jong-un. The country exports little, and the suggestion is that the rocket's failure will reduce the international marketability of the country's technology, advice and war materiel. Nevertheless, this failure is not likely to deter North Korea from sabre-rattling, and the United States, which announced a suspension of promised food aid, has no more leverage now than we had before. North Korea's leadership seems to be immune to every punitive action taken against it, and economic sanctions have had no effect other than to increase the percentage of the country's tiny GDP that supports the military establishment.
It's possible that the failure will be followed not by reticence but instead by more bellicosity. Many people expect North Korea to dilute the perception of ineptitude by staging its third nuclear test, and if the past is any predictor it will also find an opportunity to start a firefight with South Korea, as it did two years ago when it torpedoed and sank the corvette Cheonan.
North Korea's formal name is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, but of course it's neither democratic nor a republic, and the people have no say in anything. Although there is quite a bit of talk that the rocket's failure is injurious to Kim Jon-un's position, rule in North Korea should be viewed as an oligarchy, or as a regency with the military chain-of-command collectively in the role of regent. For any action to influence North Korea, it must have repercussions that affect the military establishment.
Every American administration has tried to ignore, placate or entice Pyongyang, to no positive effect. Almost all meaningful action has been blocked by China, who has veto power in the Security Council and is motivated to support North Korea mostly by the fear of a million Korean refugees streaming across the Yalu River. But China's influence has expanded dramatically in the region, and China is the only actor with the bona fides to prevent North Korea from acting dangerously. With influence comes authority, and with authority comes responsibility.