6 Iyyar 5773
Day 21 of the Omer
After weeks of NKorean fury, calm on key holiday
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Koreans celebrated the birthday of their first leader Monday by dancing in plazas and snacking on peanuts, with little hint of the fiery bombast that has kept the international community fearful that a missile launch may be imminent.
Pyongyang fired off a rocket ahead of the last anniversary of Kim Il Sung's birth — the centennial — but this time the day was simply the start of a two-day holiday for Pyongyang residents who spilled into the streets.
Girls in red and pink jackets skipped along streets festooned with celebratory banners and flags and boys on inline skates took a break to slurp up bowls of shaved ice.
There was no sense of panic in the North Korean capital, where very few locals have access to international broadcasts and foreign newspapers speculating about an imminent missile launch and detailing the international diplomacy under way to try to rein Pyongyang in.
Elsewhere in the region, however, the focus remained on the threat of a launch as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up a tour to coordinate Washington's response with Beijing, North Korea's most important ally, as well as with Seoul and Tokyo.