Defiant North Korea Marks Founder's 101st Birthday

Call for talks rejected amid celebrations of Kim Il Sung

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Apr 15, 2013 4:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – Oblivious to international tensions over a possible North Korean missile launch, Pyongyang residents spilled into the streets today to celebrate a major national holiday, the birthday of their first leader, Kim Il Sung—which also marks the start of the new year in the North Korean calendar. There was no sense of panic in the North Korean capital, where very few locals have access to international broadcasts and foreign newspaper headlines speculating about an imminent missile launch.

But while there has been almost no sense of crisis in Pyongyang, North Korea's official posture toward the outside appears to be as hardline as ever. Yesterday, it rejected a South Korean proposal to resolve tensions through dialogue. North Korea, calling the offer a "crafty trick," says it has no intention of talking with Seoul unless it abandons what the North calls a confrontational posture. A South Korean government spokesman called that response "very regrettable," but said that the South remains open to dialogue.

A South Korean army soldier aims his machine gun during an anti-terrorism drill at a subway station in Seoul today.
A South Korean army soldier aims his machine gun during an anti-terrorism drill at a subway station in Seoul today.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
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.
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.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
North Korean flags on display in Pyongyang ahead of Kim Il Sung's birthday.
North Korean flags on display in Pyongyang ahead of Kim Il Sung's birthday.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
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