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 On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid