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Pyongyang filled with excitement ahead of 70th anniv. of N. Korea's founding

PYONGYANG -- Ahead of the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on Sept. 9, residents here in the capital are busy with preparations for the anniversary events and an air of celebration has spread throughout the city.

Roughly 150 press groups from around the world have already gathered in Pyongyang. While North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has shown his intentions toward denuclearization, just what kind of missiles and other weapons will make an appearance at the large-scale military parade scheduled for the celebration is gathering international attention.

Signs reading "Congratulations 70th Anniversary" and other phrases adorn every corner of Pyongyang. At Kim Il Sung Square, where the military parade and other celebratory events are scheduled to be held, a signboard with the pronouncement "1948-2018" has been raised, and students returning from practice for the festivities bustle around carrying drums and other instruments. All around Pyongyang, residents and students seeming to be either coming from or going to practice for the big day make long lines.

"All Pyongyang residents will go to see the celebrations on Sept. 9. It's a very important event," a woman explained excitedly. She has worked for over 30 years at Kim Jong Suk Pyongyang textile factory, which bears the name of Kim Jong Il's mother. According to the woman, all of the city's main factories are on holiday for the three days from Sept. 9.

During his New Year's speech in January this year, Kim Jong Un announced, "We must expand our revolutionary general offensive to earn new victories in all areas of the establishment of this strong socialist nation," as the goal for the 70th anniversary of the country's foundation. However, economic sanctions leveled at the country based on United Nations Security Council resolutions still remain.

"The sanctions have continued since before I was born, and we have the strength to make a living on our own," said one North Korean authority member. "But I still hope that the festivities this year will spark deeper relations with foreign nations."

(Japanese original by Chiharu Shibue, Seoul Bureau)

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