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Politics

North Korea marks 71st anniversary in a calm, peaceful mood

Festivities mask impact of recent typhoon and escalating military provocations

North Koreans dance during the celebration of their country's 71st anniversary in the capital of Pyongyang on Sept. 9.   © Kyodo

PYONGYANG (Kyodo) -- North Korea on Monday marked the 71st anniversary of its founding with many foreigners visiting the capital Pyongyang as well as national flags and eye-catching signs along main roads bringing a festive mood.

The anniversary was celebrated in a calm and peaceful atmosphere that makes it difficult for onlookers to imagine that the country in recent months has repeatedly test-fired what are considered to be short-range ballistic missiles in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Pyongyang was hit hard Saturday by Typhoon Lingling, prodding locals to take emergency measures including taking down billboards bearing state slogans and reinforcing roadside trees. But repairs and cleanup following this year's 13th typhoon were nearly complete in the city by Sunday morning.

As on past anniversaries, citizens and military personnel laid flowers and bowed before giant statues of the founder and his son Kim Jong Il, the previous leader who died in 2011, on Mansu Hill in the heart of Pyongyang from early morning.

With its denuclearization negotiations with the United States at a standstill, North Korea has resumed provocative actions such as consecutive launches of what it calls new weapons since late July.

Along Pyongyang's main roads and thoroughfares, however, banners and placards with slogans lambasting Washington, commonplace in previous years, are nowhere to be seen, indicating North Korea's apparent willingness to continue talks with the United States.

At their June 30 meeting at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjeom, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed with U.S. President Donald Trump that Washington and Pyongyang would resume stalled negotiations within weeks, but they have yet to be held.

Meanwhile, North Korea has deepened relations with China in an apparent attempt to gain backing from Beijing to move forward talks with Washington. Earlier this month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Pyongyang to talk with North Korean high-ranking officials.

Last year, North Korea -- which was established on Sept. 9, 1948 -- held a military parade in Pyongyang to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its founding.

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