It didn’t set off a nuclear device.
It didn’t lob any missiles towards Japan.
This is uncharacteristic.
Especially for such a significant date on its national calendar — the foundation of its governing Workers Party of Korea in 1945.
“We are maintaining a thorough readiness posture in preparation for North Korea’s possible provocations,” South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) spokesman Army Colonel Roh Jae-cheon told local media.
South Korea’s Presidential Office also warned reporters that Pyonyang was capable of launching missiles at a moment’s notice — but added there appeared to be no signs it had any intention of doing so.
Participants described as ‘working people, youth, and students of Pyongyang’ perform during a mass gala event marking the 20th anniversary of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s election as general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). Picture: AFP / KIM Won-JinSource:AFP
North Korean analysts and observers had been anticipating a show of force after a recent escalation in rhetoric as North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump stare-down each other across the Pacific Ocean.
Both have promised the total annihilation of the other.
North Korea launched two ballistic missiles in July. It conducted its sixth — and largest — underground nuclear weapon test in September.
But, after a firestorm of rhetoric from both sides, Kim Jong-un may now be taking a more considered path.
President Trump warned at the weekend that “only one thing” would work in containing Pyonyang — continuing to hint that his preferred path was military action.
The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier is currently sitting off the coast of the Korean Peninsula. Picture: AFP / Anthony WALLACESource:AFP
“North Korea seems to be taking a cautious attitude, as any large-scale provocation would lead to a tough response from the United States,” professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University Kim Yong-hyun told the Korea Times.
But analysts point out the danger period isn’t over yet.
The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is due on October 18. Such a significant date for North Korea’s nearest neighbour could also be used to highlight any political ‘message’ Kim Jong-un cares to deliver.
And North Korea’s government-mouthpiece media may be telegraphing his intent.
It remains unclear whether North Korea is holding official celebrations for the party anniversary or if its leader Kim Jong-un is making any public appearances for the occasion.
Kim Yo-Jong, vice department director of the Central Committee of the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK) and younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, inspecting the Sin Islet defence company in Kangwon province. Picture: AFP / KCNA via KNSSource:AFP
But the official media has been touting the party’s byungjin policy — which pushes for simultaneous development of nuclear weapons and the economy — and added that military power was “the guarantee for victory”.
“We must complete the construction of the national nuclear force by thoroughly upholding the party’s byungjin policy,” said a front-page editorial carried by the Rodong Sinmun newspaper to mark the party anniversary.
“We must hold high the banner of the great byungjin policy to accelerate the final victory in the anti-America Armageddon,” it said.