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Sunday 24.09.2017 | Name days: Agris, Agrita

North Korea to hold military parade for Kim Il-sung’s birthday

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Author: REUTERS/SCANPIX

Despite intense international concern that North Korea may soon launch a missile, no signs of an imminent launch were apparent on April 14. Instead, the North seems preoccupied with preparing for the birthday of the country’s founder Kim Il-sung on April 15, which is the most important holiday in the country.

“There are no movements in the North connected with a missile launch,” said an senior officer with the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff. “The missiles were deployed on April 11, and they remain in that state.”

“We believe that North Korea will not launch a missile if it is planning to engage in talks with South Korea and the US,” said an official with the Ministry of Defense. “If the North had wanted to test-launch the Musudan missile, it should have done so at least before US Secretary of State John Kerry visited South Korea.”

Kim Jong-un appeared early in the morning of April 15 to pay respects at the mausoleum that holds the bodies of his grandfather Kim Il-sung and his father Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang, accompanied by North Korea’s senior military leadership. It was Kim’s first public appearance in two weeks, according to The Hankyoreh.

This is not the first time that Kim has not shown his face for around two weeks, but considering the current state of tensions, it is assumed that he is giving careful consideration to the US and South Korean proposals for dialogue.

Interest is focusing on whether Kim will take part in the formal military parade at Kim Il-sung Square or the ceremony at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun on April 15, the birthday of Kim Il-sung, and whether he will speak publicly at those events.

“Soldiers as well as missiles and other military equipment have been observed at the Mirim Airport near Pyongyang engaged in preparations for the former military parade,” said a South Korean government official, as quoted by Yonhap News. “It does not appear that the military parade on April 15 will be larger than what was held last year on the 100th birthday of Kim Il-sung.”

Kim Jong-un was present at the 2012 military parade, and the speech he made there was his first public speech as North Korean leader that was broadcast live.

April 14 was the 11th day that a ban on traffic into the Kaesong Industrial Complex has been in place, and the 6th day that operations at the Complex have been suspended. 210 South Korean workers remain at the complex, as well as one foreigner. On April 15-16, which are a two-day holiday for the birthday of Kim Il-sung, no workers will be returning to South Korea.

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