War clouds gather over Koreas — but Pyongyang residents barely notice
But war would mean untold horrors in the North’s capital, where neighbourhoods could be reduced to rubble and tens of thousands of civilians could be killed.
Commuters ride on an electric trolley Monday in Pyongyang, North Korea. “We’re not afraid,” one woman in the city said on Sunday. “As long as we have Marshall Kim Jong Un we can win any fight.”
Commuters ride on an electric trolley Monday in Pyongyang, North Korea. “We’re not afraid,” one woman in the city said on Sunday. “As long as we have Marshall Kim Jong Un we can win any fight.” (WONG MAYE-E / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
By TIM SULLIVANThe Associated Press
Mon., April 17, 2017
PYONGYANG—The clouds of war, it might seem, are gathering around the Korean Peninsula.
The North Korean government flaunts an increasingly sophisticated arsenal of intercontinental missiles and launches a mid-range version, which apparently fails seconds after takeoff. The U.S. moves an immense warship to the waters off the peninsula in a display of military might. U.S. President Donald Trump warns he’s ready to “solve North Korea,” while North Korea’s deputy foreign minister says his country will conduct its next nuclear test whenever it sees fit.
And in Pyongyang, where war would mean untold horrors, where neighbourhoods could be reduced to rubble and tens of thousands of civilians could be killed, few people seem to care much at all.
Mike Pence stands at Korea border and warns North, U.S. ‘patience is over’
North Korea conducts failed missile test, say U.S. and South Korean officials
Experts stunned at sheer number of new North Korean missiles
On Sunday, the city’s zoo was crowded, playgrounds were full of children and families strolled along downtown sidewalks speckled with the falling blossoms of apricot trees. At the city’s annual Kimilsungia flower show — held to celebrate Saturday’s 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s founding ruler, Kim Il Sung, and the purple orchid named for him — thousands crowded around the displays, many using cellphones to take photos of friends and family.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves during a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, to celebrate the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung on Saturday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves during a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, to celebrate the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung on Saturday. (WONG MAYE-E)
In a country where the propaganda is all-encompassing, and where the same family has held power for three generations, every display mixed bright flowers with reminders of Kim Il Sung or the nation that his grandson, Kim Jong Un, now rules. So there were dioramas of Kim Il Sung’s birthplace, photos of him meeting foreign leaders, paintings of new housing developments — and models of missiles.
And there was Chong Ok An, a retiree pushing her way through the crowds with her family.
“We’re not afraid,” she said. “As long as we have Marshall Kim Jong Un we can win any fight.”
Her response reflected the phrasing of North Korean propaganda, as well as the reality that every person here has heard talk of war for decades. The Kim family has entrenched its rule by portraying the country as being relentlessly under siege, leaving its people unable to distinguish between daily hyperbole and the reality of an increasingly tense situation.
Pence says ‘all options are on the table’ for North Korea
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits the demilitarized border between North and South Korea, saying ‘all options are on the table’ when it comes to dealing with an increasingly belligerent Pyongyang.(REUTERS)
The same unending hyperbole has affected South Koreans as well. They have heard North Korean warnings of their destruction for so long that the threats barely even register. While interest in North Korea spikes immediately after a missile launch, within hours internet search traffic is again dominated by TV comedy shows, taxes and real estate.
After the North’s weekend birthday celebrations passed with no huge provocations like a nuclear test, people and the media in South Korea were more preoccupied Monday with domestic news such as the start of the official campaigning period for next month’s presidential election and a popular singer and actor’s wedding plans. Later Monday, South Korean prosecutors were expected to indict former president Park Geun-hye on corruption charges, providing for headline-grabbing news.
University students carry North Korean national flags and two bronze statues of the late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il during a military parade in Pyongyang on Saturday.
University students carry North Korean national flags and two bronze statues of the late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il during a military parade in Pyongyang on Saturday. (WONG MAYE-E)
Read more about: North Korea, Donald Trump
You might be interested in
In the video, Steve Stephens claimed to have killed more than a dozen other people but police have not verified that information.
Cleveland police urge suspect who livestreamed killing on Facebook to turn himself in
With a little help from Connor Brown and the Leafs’ forwards, Jake Gardiner — tying up Brett Connolly on goalie Frederik Andersen’s doorstep in Game 2 — has helped take Toronto’s defence to another level in the playoffs.
Maybe Leafs blue line isn’t so thin after all: Arthur
Two patients were sharing a room — formerly the sunroom — earlier this month on the fifth floor of Hamilton General Hospital. Across the province, overcrowded hospitals have been putting patients in spaces including patient lounges, staff classrooms, even storage rooms.
Surge in patients forces Ontario hospitals to put beds in ‘unconventional spaces’
More from the Toronto Star & Partners
Volvo’s elegant new S90 flagship sedan
Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Nephew Just Signed With IMG Models
Toronto’s Best Chocolate Shops
6 Foods You Should Never Keep In The Fridge!
More from News
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a parliamentary session that the government is formulating measures including protecting foreigners, landing procedures, building and operating shelters, and screening asylum seekers.
Japan planning for refugees in event of Korean crisis, Japan’s PM says
Shinzo Abe, set to discuss North Korea with U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence, said government’s working on evacuation plans for about 60,000 Japanese from South Korea in case of a crisis.