North Korea marks 7th anniversary of Kim Jong Il's death

North Korea marks 7th anniversary of Kim Jong Il's death
North Koreans mark the seventh anniversary of the death of leader Kim Jong Il with visits on Monday to statues and vows of loyalty to his son and successor, Kim Jong Un. Tens of thousands of people offered flowers and paid respects to the late leader as snow fell on Sunday at Mansu Hill in central Pyongyang, the location of huge bronze statues of the "Dear Leader" and national founder Kim Il Sung.

The anniversary observations were expected to continue through Monday across the country. The death of Kim Jong Il on December 17, 2011, thrust his son into power when he was still in his late 20s and a virtual unknown figure outside of the North.

Despite many predictions from outside experts that he wouldn't be up to the task, Kim Jong Un has consolidated his power, bolstered the country's economy in the face of intense international sanctions, and attained a goal his father and grandfather could only dream of - he is the first North Korean leader to possess an arsenal of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles capable of reaching the United States.

With attention focused on the anniversary, there was little mention in the state media of the issues that have gotten the most attention elsewhere, including a flurry of speculation in South Korea that Kim might visit Seoul by the end of the year.

Despite many predictions from outside experts that he wouldn't be up to the task, Kim Jong Un has consolidated his power, bolstered the country's economy in the face of intense international sanctions, and attained a goal his father and grandfather could only dream of - he is the first North Korean leader to possess an arsenal of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles capable of reaching the United States. With attention focused on the anniversary, there was little mention in the state media of the issues that have gotten the most attention elsewhere, including a flurry of speculation in South Korea that Kim might visit Seoul by the end of the year.

The North's sharp rebuke came after the United States said last week it had introduced sanctions on three North Korean officials, including a top aide to Kim, for alleged human rights abuses. While crediting Trump for his "willingness" to improve relations with the North, also known as DPRK, Pyongyang accused the US State Department of being "bent on bringing the DPRK-US relations back to the status of last year, which was marked by exchanges of fire".

If the US administration believed that heightened sanctions and pressure would force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons, "it will count as [its] greatest miscalculation and it will block the path to denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula forever - a result desired by no one", according to a statement released under the name of the policy research director of the Institute for American Studies. Read...

James Koroma

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