North Korea: North Korea's celebration of the birthday of Kim Il-sung was tame. There was no military parade, although formations had assembled and practiced at Mirim airfield near Pyongyang., according to South Korean military officials.
There is no international spring festival scheduled. Last year 800 artists from 23 countries participated in a nine-day festival, around the Day of the Sun (15 April). This year it was canceled, apparently because the leadership considered it incompatible with the warning to diplomats to depart by 10 April and its refusal to allow foreigners into North Korea.
Most importantly, there were no special rations for the general population, as gifts of the state. Defector sources reported that children were given sweets, but the government provided extra rations only for families of Party members.
Comment: National holidays are important for making life bearable. They are the only times the general population, not party members, share in the regime's limited "prosperity: through extra rations, alcohol and gifts; displays of military might and the international culture festival.
Kim Il-sung's birthday, the Day of the Sun, is the most important holiday of the year. It is almost unfilial to fail to honor the traditions. The primary reasons to not supply extra food and treats for the general populace are because of severe food shortages; because the country is actually fighting a war, or because of some new economic plan.
Defectors allege that this year's stinginess is the result of shortages and a new economic plan for normalizing rations later this year. Those claims are not confirmed. What is confirmed is that the celebration is subdued and North Koreans who live along the China border are complaining.
North Korea-South Korea: Even amid the celebration in Pyongyang, the leadership noted yet another South Korean slight and issued another statement. This time in the form of an ultimatum. According to the Korean Central News Agency,
"The supreme command of the Korean People's Army issued the following ultimatum to the south Korean puppet forces on Tuesday: The world is in a festive mood on the auspicious Day of the Sun. "
"Even though an acute situation is prevailing in the DPRK, all the people are celebrating the Day of the Sun as the greatest national holiday. "
"It is only the south Korean puppet forces who hurled a group of anti-communist gangsters into a rally against the DPRK in the heart of Seoul in broad daylight at which they set fire to the portraits, the symbols of its supreme dignity, the thrice-cursed crime."
"All the service personnel and people of the DPRK are simmering with towering resentment at this monstrous criminal act. "
"In view of this situation the Supreme Command of the KPA sends the following ultimatum to the south Korean puppet forces:
1. Our retaliatory action will start without any notice from now as such thrice-cursed criminal act of hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK is being openly committed in the heart of Seoul under the patronage of the puppet authorities.
To be included in the targets of retaliation are those directly or indirectly involved in the operation to hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK and those who instigated the perpetrators and connived their crime and the relevant organs and departments of the authorities involved.
2. The DPRK's revolutionary armed forces will start immediately their just military actions to show how the service personnel and people of the DPRK value and protect the dignity of the supreme leadership.
The military demonstration of the DPRK's revolutionary armed forces will be powerful sledge-hammer blows at all hostile forces hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK.
3. If the puppet authorities truly want dialogue and negotiations, they should apologize for all anti-DPRK hostile acts, big and small, and show the compatriots their will to stop all these acts in practice."
Comment: Defacing a picture of a Kim leader is a capital offense in North Korea, but this statement is stretching to find a pretext. The references to action without warning and to starting military actions immediately indicate the North's leaders probably have ordered a military demonstration. Sledge-hammer blows could be anything forecful and violent, including missiles.
End of NightWatch
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