North Korea marks 7th anniversary of Kim Jong’s Il death

The anniversary observations are expected to continue through Monday across the country. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 December 2018
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North Korea marks 7th anniversary of Kim Jong’s Il death

  • A steady flow of North Koreans offering flowers and paying respects to the late leader could be seen at Mansu Hill in central Pyongyang
  • Though focused on remembrances of his father, the anniversary also marks Kim Jong Un’s own rise to power

PYONGYANG, North Korea: North Koreans are marking the anniversary of the death of leader Kim Jong Il seven years ago with visits to statues and vows of loyalty to his son, Kim Jong Un.
As snow fell Sunday, a steady flow of North Koreans offering flowers and paying respects to the late leader could be seen at Mansu Hill in central Pyongyang, the location of huge bronze statues of the “Dear Leader” and national founder Kim Il Sung.
The anniversary observations were expected to continue through Monday across the country.
Though focused on remembrances of his father, the anniversary also marks Kim’s own rise to power.
The death of Kim Jong Il on Dec. 17, 2011, thrust Kim into power when he was still in his late 20s and a virtual unknown figure outside of the North. But, despite many predictions from outside experts that he wouldn’t be up to the task, Kim has managed to consolidate power, bolster the country’s economy in the face of intense international sanctions and attain a goal his father and grandfather could only dream of — he is the first North Korean leader to possess an arsenal of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles capable of reaching the United States.
As the nation remembered his father, there was no mention in the state media of the issues that have gotten the most attention elsewhere, including a flurry of speculation in South Korea that Kim might visit Seoul by the end of the year, or how he intends to deal with growing frustration in Washington over the slow pace of denuclearization talks between the two countries.
The national news agency, KCNA, instead ran stories about memorials to Kim Jong Il in Libya, Russia and Serbia.
Even so, the anniversary was being watched closely for any signs of change or hints of what the country’s leadership may be planning in the months ahead.
With Kim’s power base seemingly more solid than ever, and his recent effort to establish himself on the world stage through summits with President Donald Trump and others, North Korea watchers have been on the lookout for signs that his own personality cult is being bolstered.
Virtually all homes and public offices in North Korea feature portraits of the elder Kims, who are also memorialized in countless statues, mosaics and cenotaphs around the country. North Korean adults wear pins over their hearts bearing the likenesses of Kim Il Sung of Kim Jong Il, or both.
This year’s anniversary has so far offered no major departures from past precedent.
The North has yet to come out with a Kim Jong Un pin or to order his image join the others on every wall, though Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, have been referred to with increasingly lofty titles — “chairman” for Kim and “respected first lady” for Ri. A special portrait of the young chairman was unveiled recently at a ceremony to welcome the visit of Cuba’s president, but none have appeared in public since. And unlike his father and grandfather, Kim’s Jan. 8 birthday has yet to be declared a national holiday or even marked on most calendars.
None of that should be assumed to be a sign of weakness, however. It could in fact indicate strength.
Kim is generally afforded the same reverential treatment by the state media and for maintaining a respectful step behind his predecessors, he is credited with showing humility and confidence.


UK prime minister in last-minute push to win Brexit support

A European flag and a British Union flag hang outside Europe House, the European Parliament's British offices in London, Monday, March 18, 2019. (AP)
Updated 18 March 2019
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UK prime minister in last-minute push to win Brexit support

  • May aims to try a third time this week if she can persuade enough lawmakers to change their minds
  • May’s spokesman, James Slack, said Monday that the government would only hold a vote if there is “a realistic prospect of success”

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May was making a last-minute push Monday to win support for her European Union divorce deal, warning opponents that failure to approve it would mean a long — and possibly indefinite — delay to Brexit.
Parliament has rejected the agreement twice, but May aims to try a third time this week if she can persuade enough lawmakers to change their minds. Her aim is to have the deal agreed before EU leaders meet Thursday for a summit in Brussels.
But there was no sign of a breakthrough, and the government faces a deadline of the end of Tuesday to decide whether they have enough votes to pass the deal, so that a vote can be held on Wednesday.
May’s spokesman, James Slack, said Monday that the government would only hold a vote if there is “a realistic prospect of success.”
May is likely to ask for a delay to Brexit at the Brussels summit. If a deal is approved, she says she will ask the EU to extend the deadline until June 30 so that Parliament has time to approve the necessary legislation. If it isn’t, she will have to seek a longer extension that would mean Britain participating in May 23-26 elections for the European Parliament — something the government is keen to avoid.
May’s goal is to win over Northern Ireland’s small, power-brokering Democratic Unionist Party. The DUP’s 10 lawmakers prop up May’s Conservative government, and their support could influence pro-Brexit Conservatives to drop their opposition to the deal.
Still, May faces a struggle to reverse the huge margins of defeat for the agreement in Parliament. It was rejected by 230 votes in January and by 149 votes last week.
Influential Conservative Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said he would wait to see what the DUP decided before making up his mind on whether to support May’s deal.
“No deal is better than a bad deal, but a bad deal is better than remaining in the European Union,” he told LBC radio.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Monday he saw “cautious signs of encouragement” that the deal might make it through Parliament this week.
After months of political deadlock, British lawmakers voted last week to seek to postpone Brexit. That will likely avert a chaotic British withdrawal on the scheduled exit date of March 29 — although the power to approve or reject a Brexit extension lies with the EU, whose leaders are fed up with British prevarication.
EU leaders say they will only grant it if Britain has a solid plan for what to do with the extra time.
“We have to know what the British want: How long, what is the reason supposed to be, how it should go, what is actually the aim of the extension?” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Brussels. “The longer it is delayed, the more difficult it will certainly be.”
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders agreed, saying: “We are not against an extension in Belgium, but the problem is — to do what?“
Opposition to May’s deal centers on a measure designed to ensure there is no hard border between the UK’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland after Brexit.
The mechanism, known as the backstop, is a safeguard that would keep the UK in a customs union with the EU until a permanent new trading relationship is in place. Brexit supporters in Britain fear the backstop could be used to bind the country to EU regulations indefinitely, and the DUP fears it could lead to a weakening of the bonds between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK
Talks between the government and the DUP are aimed at reassuring the party that Britain could not be trapped in the backstop indefinitely.
May said in an article for the Sunday Telegraph that failure to approve the deal meant “we will not leave the EU for many months, if ever.”
“The idea of the British people going to the polls to elect MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) three years after voting to leave the EU hardly bears thinking about,” she wrote.
But May suffered a setback Monday when former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson refused to support her deal.
Johnson, a staunch Brexiteer, used his column in the Daily Telegraph to argue that the backstop left the UK vulnerable to “an indefinite means of blackmail” by Brussels.