In the News – Children Brave Harsh Cold for Arirang

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In the News – Children Brave Harsh Cold for Arirang

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the North Korean authorities ordered the holding of provincial cultural events along similar lines to the famed ‘Arirang’ mass gymnastics. However, in Yangkang Province the weather in the run-up to the event meant that this created considerable displeasure, prompting some wealthier parents to make significant payments to avoid participation.

According to a source from Yangkang Province, a two-hour Arirang-style performance called ‘Shine, Shrine of the Revolution’ went ahead in Hyesan Stadium on the 15th, apparently causing the watching citizens of the city to agree that “We are in tears just watching those kids perform so well when they haven’t had enough to eat.”

Starting in February and continuing throughout the winter, preparations for the performance were intense, so a number of middle and upper class families apparently paid 60-100,000 North Korean Won to get their elementary- and middle school-age children out of it.

“The provincial education office issued an order telling schools to organize the performance for themselves, so the students in charge of preparing the card section had a really hard time making it,” the source explained. ”The intensity of the dance practice was too harsh as well; there were many kids with nosebleeds.”

“They said it was hell, spending all day in the icy cold practicing,” she went on. “Even in April it is about 10℃ in Yangkang Province, cold enough to be wearing padded clothes at midday. The students had to bring lunch, and those who did not practiced the whole day starving”.

“Does ‘Arirang’ know that these children are starving and suffering like this?” Hyesan residents could reportedly be heard to wonder, referring euphemistically to Kim Jong Eun.

Provincial performances of this nature were first initiated when Kim Jong Il attended a mass gymnastics event in Jagang Province in August, 2009, declaring that regional variations on a theme be prepared nationwide. These events are ordinarily held from Liberation Day on August 15th to Party Foundation Day on October 10th, but this year saw special performances organized to mark the April 15th holiday, requiring preparations to go ahead during the winter.

However, on April 15th Rodong Shinmun released news of the Yangkang Province performance, saying that it had rendered the stadium “aflutter with joy.”

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Defiant North Korea says rocket launch to go ahead

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In the News – Defiant North Korea says rocket launch to go ahead

(Reuters) – North Korea on Sunday rejected criticism of its planned long-range missile launch which threatens to upset its only major benefactor, China, and put relations with the United States back in the freezer just as they seemed to be starting to thaw.

Political analysts say the launch, which would violate U.N. resolutions on the heavily sanctioned state, is aimed at boosting the legitimacy of its young new ruler Kim Jong-un who inherited power after his father’s death in December.

“The peaceful development and use of space is a universally recognized legitimate right of a sovereign state,” the North’s state KCNA news agency said.

North Korea says it is using the rocket to launch a satellite to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the country’s founding ruler and grandfather of the current ruler.

The United States, and others, say it is much the same as a ballistic missile test and therefore off-limits for the isolated state which has for years been trying to build a nuclear arsenal.

Washington, which last month agreed to supply North Korea with food in exchange for a suspension of nuclear tests, missile launches and uranium enrichment and to allow nuclear inspectors into the country, called the planned launch “highly provocative”.

More troubling perhaps for Pyongyang, which is long accustomed to trading invective with Washington, Beijing called the planned launch a “worry” in a rare attempt to put public pressure on its impoverished ally.

The North has invited foreign observers and journalists to attend the launch.

It announced the planned launch on Friday just weeks after the deal with Washington. It will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of its founder Kim Il-sung.

In April 2009, North Korea conducted a ballistic rocket launch that resulted in a new round of U.N. sanctions, squeezing the secretive state’s already troubled economy and deepening its isolation.

That launch was dismissed as a failure after the first stage fell into the Sea of Japan without placing a satellite in orbit. Another test failed in similar circumstances in 1998.

The new launch is due to take place between April 12-16, to coincide with Kim Il-sung’s centenary celebrations and will coincide with parliamentary elections in South Korea.

Japan has said it would consider deploying PAC3 missile interceptors as it did in a 2009 launch by North Korea.

(Reporting by Sung-won Shim; Editing by David Chance and Jonathan Thatcher)

Original article can be found here.