A claimed satellite launch by North Korea earlier this month earned condemnation in capitals as far away from the peninsula as Washington, D.C., Moscow and London. The political impact of the event would obviously have been all the greater in Seoul.

Although an object was put into orbit, the rest of the globe seems united in interpreting Pyongyang’s launch as a long-range ballistic missile test rather than a genuine attempt at advancing a non-military space capability. North Korea’s neighbors have every right to feel deeply concerned.

Countering the almost entirely unquantifiable threat from an unpredictable and increasingly belligerent North Korea has been Seoul’s primary preoccupation since the end of the Korean War 53 years ago, but it is difficult to argue that the situation has ever been more precariously balanced than it is now. Diplomacy is intensifying around efforts to build a coalition strong enough to rein in the North, and with the February launch following January’s claimed hydrogen bomb test, even nations previously reluctant to line up against Pyongyang are starting to come around.

China, traditionally the nearest the North Koreans could call an ally, joined Russia in condemning the launch before it took place. South Korea’s president, Park Guen-Hye, has made it a priority to build a strong working relationship with her Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, and was the only leader from any of the major allies of the U.S. to attend a Beijing military parade marking 70 years since the end of World War II.

In January, the director of the Chinese defense ministry’s Foreign Affairs Office, Rear Admiral Guan Youfei, visited Seoul for annual talks with the South Korean defense ministry’s director-general for international policy, Yoon Soon-Gu. The summit is an annual event, but South Korea will have used to the occasion to increase pressure on China to apply sanctions on Pyongyang. The key difficulty for the South is to reassure China that a destabilized North Korea will not lead to a reunified and America-allied peninsula, while China also fears a refugee crisis should the North Korean economy deteriorate further.

Those ties to Washington remain strong, with approval granted by the Pentagon’s Defense and Security Cooperation Agency for a Lockheed Martin-led upgrade program for Seoul’s F-16 fleet following the termination of a previous contract with BAE Systems. The $2.5 billion package approved includes active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, new mission computers, radar warning receivers, electronic warfare management units and embedded GPS/inertial navigation systems.

South Korea is also a customer for the F-35, with the first of a planned 40 jets scheduled to be delivered in 2018. The KF-X program, to develop an indigenous fighter in collaboration with Indonesia, is also proceeding, though funding for it is minimal, and there remain serious doubts over whether U.S. radar technology will be approved for the proposed jet.

Seoul has also reviewed its position on a possible deployment of the Lockheed-built THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) anti-ballistic missile system. South Korea had initially requested information on THAAD with an apparent view to procuring the system; the U.S. Army revealed plans in 2014 to potentially deploy American THAAD batteries to South Korea, a move that led to Chinese protests, and the plan appeared to have stalled. But in an announcement on February 7, just hours after the North’s rocket launch, South Korean and U.S. Army officials confirmed that “official discussion” on THAAD deployment has been initiated.

Another Lockheed contract approved for South Korea is a $1.9 billion program to supply three additional Aegis combat systems to the Republic of Korea Navy. The service currently operates three KDX-III-class destroyers with Aegis on board. The export approval followed a December 2013 announcement by South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff that they intended to double the size of the current fleet of three of the 7,600-ton destroyers by 2027.

The Republic also has been beefing up its cyber capabilities. With well over 80% of its population using the Internet, South Korea has a potentially greater threat surface than other nations. Attacks in 2013 and 2014 on banks and utilities companies, as well as TV stations, which were attributed to North Korea, underlined this vulnerability, though they also emphasized the resilience of South Korea’s digital infrastructure as the attack vectors were promptly patched and services restored. Last April, the government announced the creation of a new presidential post with responsibility for national cyber security. Reports in 2014 suggest that the South has also been developing an offensive cyberweapon for possible use against North Korea’s nuclear programs.