News / Asia

North Korea Marks Birth of Founder Amid Tensions

North Koreans place flowers before the statues of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung (L) and his son, late leader Kim Jong-il, on the 101st anniversary of the elder Kim's birth in Pyongyang, April 15, 2013. (KCNA)
North Koreans place flowers before the statues of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung (L) and his son, late leader Kim Jong-il, on the 101st anniversary of the elder Kim's birth in Pyongyang, April 15, 2013. (KCNA)
North Korea on Monday marked the birth of its founder amid regional worries it would use the occasion to provocatively test fire one or more medium-range missiles.

On what it calls the Day of the Sun, North Korea honored the 101st birth anniversary of its founder and eternal president Kim Il Sung, who died in 1994.

There was, however, no military parade nor any large-scale festivities.

More significantly, the isolated country which stresses a “military-first” policy did not launch ballistic missiles or even short range rockets, as had been widely anticipated.

South of the demilitarized zone, conservative groups were persuaded by the government to postpone launching balloons towards the North Monday containing propaganda leaflets and U.S. dollar bills.

South Korea's ministry of national defense stresses it remains on alert for missile launches the North could conduct “at any time.”

Defense minister Kim Kwan-jin told a parliamentary committee there are no signs, however, the North is preparing to initiate an all-out war.

That assessment was backed by tour guide Hannah Barraclough of Koryo Tours who posted her observations (Sunday night) on YouTube from Pyongyang.

“There's no tanks. There's not really any sign,” she said. “In fact, there's less sign of readying for some kind of war than there was that I saw in March.”

South Korean foreign minister Yun Byung-se, speaking at the World Journalists' Conference in Seoul, says the government is looking to mix strong pressure with strong persuasion to defuse tension on the peninsula.

"Strong pressure comes from for example U.N. Security Council. It could come from countries in this part of the world. But also, the persuasion can come from China, U.S. and South Korea," said Yun. "This is one reason why my government under President Park wants to launch the trust-building process. In the trust-building process, it's called meaning some kind of dialogue and contacts and exchange of people."

  • Military officials applaud with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, during the Unhasu concert in Pyongyang, in a photo released April 16, 2013. (KCNA)
  • A firefighter tries to extinguish a U.S. Marine helicopter after it made a "hard landing" during an exercise, north of Seoul, April 16, 2013.
  • South Korean soldiers participate in a search operation during their military drill in Daejeon, south of Seoul, April 16, 2013.
  • A North Korean soldier guards the entrance to Pyongyang's Kumsusan mausoleum, where the bodies of the late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il lie embalmed, April 15, 2013.
  • North Korean party officials visit Mankyongdae, the birthplace of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung, on the 101st anniversary of his birth, April 15, 2013.
  • A man, center, supervises a dancing group during a mass folk dance in front of the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium, April 15, 2013.
  • Anti-North Korean protesters chant slogans in front of effigies of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (L) and his father, Kim Jong Il, in central Seoul, April 15, 2013.
  • Anti-war activists wearing military clothes of a North, left, and South Korean hug each other during a rally to mark Global Day of Action on Military Spending in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, April 15, 2013.
  • South Korean protesters wearing envelopes participate in a rally to mark Global Day of Action on Military Spending near the U.S. embassy in Seoul, April 15, 2013.
  • Visitors use binoculars to watch North Korean territory at the unification observation post near the border village of Panmunjom, in Paju, north of Seoul, April 15, 2013.

South Korea's government Monday expressed “deep regret” the North has bluntly rejected the most recent proposal for dialog.

North Korea on Sunday dismissed as a “cunning trick” last week's suggestion from Seoul that discussions should be pursued to solve inter-Korean differences, such as Pyongyang pulling its workers last week from the Kaesong industrial complex. That was the only remaining North-South joint venture.

In a wide-ranging policy speech before university students in Tokyo, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry remarked that Washington “remains open to authentic and credible negotiations on denuclearization” but the burden is on Pyongyang to move in the right direction.

“North Korea must take meaningful steps to show that it will honor commitments it has already made. And it has to observe laws and the norms of international behavior,” he said.

Kerry's remark came as he wrapped up four days of meetings with leaders in Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo. Much of the discussion centered on a recent string of disturbing pronouncements from Pyongyang.

North Korea, following the launching of a satellite into space on a multi-stage missile and a third nuclear test, has unleashed a stream of rhetoric that is extreme even by its typical bellicose standards.

Pyongyang declared it was abrogating the 1953 armistice, preparing for a preemptive nuclear attack on the United States and proclaimed a state of war in existence with the South.

Many analysts interpret the rhetoric as an indication the isolated and impoverished country intends to maintain development of weapons of mass destruction no matter the political or economic cost.

North Korea is under numerous international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and missile development programs.

The United States, which is conducting joint military exercises with South Korea through the end of the month, in recent weeks has sought to demonstrate its commitment to its ally by flying air force strategic bombers over the South and moving some anti-missile naval ships to waters off the peninsula.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: MR.KARBASI from: IRAN
April 15, 2013 2:25 PM
I'M NOT SURE LIVING CONDITIONS IN NORTH KOREA IS AS BAD AS WHAT MOST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD ASSUME.BECAUSE WESTERN MASS MEDIA CATERS OUR MIND.FOR EXAMPLE, MOST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD(EVEN SO CALLED EDUCATED PEOPLE IN WESTERN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES & AMERICANS) BELIEVE LIVING CONDITIONS IN IRAN ARE TERRIBLE BUT IT'S NOT TRUE AT ALL.AND NEITHER IS WHAT IRANIANS THINK ABOUT AMERICA. I'VE TRAVELED TO DIVERSE COUNTRIES.IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE MY CLAIM YOU CAN TRY.I HELP YOU.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid