April 15 in North Korea: Celebration of a past leader or a defining moment for the present leader?
April 15 is a significant day for North Korea. Pyongyang will mark the birthday of its founder on that day, historically a time when it seeks to draw the world’s attention with dramatic displays of military power. The threat that it will launch a missile on this day is one many nations around are taking seriously.
At the same time, the threats are largely seen as rhetoric and an attempt by North Korea to scare foreigners into pressing their governments to pressure Washington and Seoul to change their policies toward Pyongyang, as well as to boost the military credentials of North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong Un. North Korea does not have diplomatic relations with the U.S. and South Korea, its foes during the Korean War of the 1950s.
On the streets of Pyongyang, the focus has been less on preparing for war and more on beautifying the city ahead of the nation’s biggest holiday. Soldiers laid blankets of sod to liven up a city still coming out of a long, cold winter; gardeners got down on their knees to plant flowers and trees, and students marched off to school – ordinary springtime activities belying the high tensions.
The present leader of North Korea is young, and seeking to establish his credentials as a leader. This makes him highly unpredictable at this time of tension Today, April 15 provides an opportunity for him to make his mark.
Pray for this nation and its people at this time. Pray for the Kim Jong Un, the leader. Pray for mercy for all in the midst of political posturing.