A mass of people wave flags in Pyongyang as part of the celebrations. Photo: Li Hao/GT
Defying Donald Trump
's tough talk, North Korea
test fired a missile on Sunday morning, prompting a chorus of condemnations from the US and its allies and raising concerns over whether a new nuclear test is imminent.
On Saturday, Pyongyang celebrated the 105th birthday of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the regime and grandfather of current supreme leader Kim Jong-un
, with a massive parade featuring military personnel, heavy weapons teams and members of the public. Suspected intercontinental ballistic missiles and the country's other newest weaponry were showcased as Kim Jong-un waved to the crowd from a rostrum overlooking Kim Il-sung Square. A series of celebratory events were held before and during the day, including performances put on by children and a ball participated in by both North Korean youths and foreign visitors.
Despite the festivities, the atmosphere surrounding the country is far from joyous. The launch of the missile Sunday, which reportedly exploded shortly after launch, further strained the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, at a time when the Trump administration seems to be putting greater military and political pressure on Pyongyang. A US aircraft carrier battle group has arrived near the Korean Peninsula, and Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday landed in South Korea for his Asia visit with the North's nuclear program likely to be at the center of attention.
Media reported that major Chinese tourism agencies have recently stopped providing organized tours to North Korea, and that Air China has temporarily halted flights to and from the Northeast Asian country.
North Korean vice foreign minister Han Song-ryol on Friday vowed to pre-emptively strike US targets and said a nuclear test could come any time the supreme leader of North Korea thinks appropriate.
North Korean soldiers take pictures during a military parade in Pyongyang marking the 105th anniversary of Kim Il-sung's birth on April 15. Photo: Li Hao/GT
Heavy weaponry rolls across Kim Il-sung Square during the military parade. Photo: Li Hao/GT
A family have their photo taken in front of a portrait of late leader Kim Il-sung. Photo: Li Hao/GT
Locals and visitors dance during a ball in Pyongyang's Kim Il-sung Square to mark the 105th birthday of the founder of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Photo: Li Hao/GTNewspaper headline: Still defiant