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 For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid