Kim Jong-un throws dance party to celebrate North Korea missile launch

Celebrations follow threat to turn Seoul and Washington into 'a heap of ashes'

Jacob Furedi
Friday 26 August 2016 18:04 BST
Government held mass meetings with residents telling them to 'Keep your mouths shut'
Government held mass meetings with residents telling them to 'Keep your mouths shut' (Reuters)

North Korea celebrated its “Military First” holiday and the recent success of its ballistic missile testing with mass dances and a series of outdoor concerts in Pyongyang.

State television broadcasts and newspaper front pages hailed the submarine-launched missile, which represented a giant leap in North Korean military technology.

In response, traditional mass dancing demonstrations were held across the country, the biggest taking place in the capital's Kim Il-sung Square.

Mass dances are often held in Pyongyang after military 'successes' (Getty)

Mass dancing is a common form of celebration in North Korea during state festivities and birthdays.

Such spectacles are rarely spontaneous and usually staged and tend to take place in front of important political monuments. After the country successfully tested a hydrogen bomb in January, footage showed young women dressed in elaborate gowns dancing around a stone statue.

The “Military First” holiday celebrates the anniversary of the Songun policy introduced by Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il, in 1960, which gave primacy to the North Korean army in state politics and funding.

After the successful Pyukguksong missile test, Kim Jong-un was shown hugging officials on an observation deck. State media quoted him as calling the event the “success of all successes”.

Despite the parties taking place across the country, the atmosphere in Pyongyang was still tense. Throughout the celebrations, military convoys travelled through the capital.

Recently, North Korean television has aired more military footage than usual. Clips showing soldiers marching chest-deep through mud and across ice-covered lakes, apparently in preparation for conflict, have been broadcast across the country.

The national holiday arrives amid increased tensions between North and South Korea. The South is currently carrying out its annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises with the US south of the neutral Demilitarised Zone.

Rumours that these exercises include training for an invasion of the North have sparked particular alarm in Pyongyang.

“They are not military exercises, but war preparations to invade our country,” said Kim Kyong-ik, a 44-year-old Pyongyang resident.

“Our country is getting more prosperous and they don’t like that, so they are stepping up their moves to stifle us.”

North Korea has warned it will turn Seoul and Washington into “a heap of ashes through a Korean-style pre-emptive strike” if they show any hint of aggression toward the North’s territory.

US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau urged North Korea to “refrain from actions and rhetoric that further raise tensions in the region.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in