North Korea marks founder's birthday with calls for loyalty to current leader

Lamar Ellis
April 17, 2019

The commemoration comes a few days after Kim Jong Un, grandson of Kim Il Sung, was re-elected supreme leader by the top legislature, and expressed eagerness to hold a third summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, in his policy speech at the parliament.

"Whenever North Korea is ready, we hope that the South and North could sit down together and hold concrete and practical discussions on ways to achieve progress that goes beyond what was accomplished in the two summits between North Korea and the United States", Moon said in a meeting with senior aides.

In Kim's speech, three core examples of this policy were the United States' refusal to grant sanctions relief, its continuation of modified military exercises with South Korea, and a recent USA missile defense test against an intercontinental-range ballistic missile-class target.

Following the collapse of the Trump-Kim summit, the North had been urging the South to break away from Washington and proceed with inter-Korean economic projects that are now held back by US -led sanctions against the North.

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Moon, who has long backed engagement with the nuclear-armed North, has been pushing for the resumption of inter-Korean economic projects, but doing so would fall foul of global sanctions imposed on Pyongyang.

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While North Korea and the United States have been discussing the North's denuclearization, US ally South Korea has been taking steps to improve its ties with its old rival.

"I have high regard for Chairman Kim's unwavering commitment". He hailed Kim's willingness to talk with the United States, vowing to help resume dialogue between the DPRK and the United States. During that speech, he said that North Korea needed to increase its self-reliance and "deal a telling blow to hostile forces" seeking to apply sanctions pressure. Responding on Twitter, Trump welcomed a third meeting with Kim. "But U.S. -style dialogue of unilaterally pushing its demands doesn't fit us, and we have no interest in it".

Moon said Trump was supportive of his plan for an inter-Korean summit when they met in Washington last week.

North and South Korea have been divided since the war ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty.

Moon, who has seen his approval ratings rise and fall due to the faltering process, tried to maintain a balance between the two adversaries in his remarks on Monday.

With Kim urging the United States in the speech to change its tough stance in nuclear talks by the end of this year, political slogans in public spaces made no mention of the country's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs. At the time, National Intelligence Service Chief Suh Hoon also visited the North.

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