The latest development comes as Vice-President Mike Pence heads to Seoul, where he is expected to discuss the best way to deal with North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.
“North Korea attempted to test an unidentified type of missile from [its eastern port of] Sinpo,” the South Korean defense ministry said, adding that the launch on April 16 had “failed”.
The ministry said that it was investigating for further details.
The US Pacific Command later confirmed the failed test, adding that it had detected and tracked what it believed to be a North Korean ballistic missile.
“The missile blew up almost immediately,” said US Navy Commander Dave Benham, quoted by Reuters.
One unnamed US official said it was unlikely to have been an intercontinental missile, but investigations were continuing.
On April 15, North Korea marked the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founding president, Kim Il-sung, with a huge military parade in Pyongyang amid speculation that current leader Kim Jong-un could order a new nuclear test.
The event, which appeared to include new intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, was a deliberate show of strength.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “North Korea showing a variety of offensive missiles at yesterday’s military parade and daring to fire a ballistic missile today is a show of force that threatens the whole world.”
At the parade on April 15, North Korean military official Choe Ryong-hae, who is believed to be the country’s second most powerful official, said that his country was “prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war”.
“We are ready to hit back with nuclear attacks of our own style against any nuclear attacks,” he said.
Earlier this month, North Korea test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile from Sinpo into the Sea of Japan.
The launch took place on the eve of a visit by China’s President Xi Jinping to the US to meet President Donald Trump. The two leaders later discussed how to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
North Korea is banned from any missile or nuclear tests by the UN, though it has repeatedly broken those sanctions.
North Korean military official Choe Ryong-Hae said: “We’re prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war.”
He added: “We are ready to hit back with nuclear attacks of our own style against any nuclear attacks.”
North Korea staged an extravagant display of military strength at April 15 parade amid concern that mounting tensions in the region could lead to a conflict with the US.
Rows of military bands and columns of troops marched into Pyongyang’s main Kim Il-sung square in the heart of the city.
On display for the first time were what appeared to be submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), which could be developed to house nuclear warheads capable of reaching targets around the world.
With concerns that the state is getting closer to successfully producing a nuclear arsenal, the parade was an opportunity for Kim Jong-un to broadcast North Korea’s current military capabilities.
The event made clear how vital North Korea’s nuclear program is to its future ambitions as it continues to ignore growing pressure from the US to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and a series of missile launches. Experts and government officials believe it is working to develop nuclear-warhead missiles that can reach the US.
On April, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned that “conflict could break out at any moment”, adding that if war occurred there could be no winner.
China, North Korea’s only backer, fears conflict could cause the regime to collapse and problems on its border.
“We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage,” Wang Yi said.
Adding to Chinese unease, President Donald Trump said on April 13 that “the problem of North Korea” would be “taken care of”.
“If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.”
President Trump has recently demonstrated his willingness to resort to military methods. He ordered a cruise missile attack on Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack, and the US military just used a huge bomb against ISIS in Afghanistan.
Kim Jong-un’s younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, is expected to take up an important role in North Korea’s core leadership as the secretive country gears up for a rare party congress this weekend.
South Korea’s news agency Yonhap has quoted experts as saying that Yo-jong may take up a minister-level post within the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.
The move will likely be seen as part of a larger plan by Kim Jong-un to cement power within his party and over the country.
According to North Korea Leadership Watch, a website run by scholar Michael Madden, Kim Yo-jong is the youngest daughter of late leader Kim Jong-il, and shares the same mother as Jong-un and brother Jong-chol.
Born in 1987, Kim Yo-jong is said to be very close to Kim Jong-un, who is four years older than her. The two of them lived and studied in Berne, Switzerland at the same time.
Kim Yo-jong is reportedly married to the son of Choe Ryong-hae, the powerful party secretary.
Her main job has been to protect her brother’s image, taking up a key role in the party’s propaganda department in 2014.
Kim Yo-jong is said to manage all his public appearances, including his itineraries and logistics, as well as act as a political adviser.
Kim Jong-un’s sister has sporadically been in the spotlight in recent years, appearing at the state funeral of her father in 2011 and the election of her brother in 2014, and occasionally seen trailing her brother in state media pictures.
In October 2015, Kim Yo-jong she was rumored to have been sacked from the propaganda department by Jong-un for doing a poor job.
However, observers believe that she is still destined for a top job in the leadership, with a place said to be carved out for her as early as 2008, when major succession planning was conducted following Kim Jong-il’s deterioration in health.
Kim Yo-jong was even speculated to be a possible, though unlikely, candidate to take over from her brother when Jong-un disappeared from public view for a prolonged period in 2014.
She has been described as having a sweet, good-natured disposition, with a bit of a tomboy streak in he.
However, reports say Kim Yo-jong also has had a sheltered upbringing, and other members of the Kim family have not interacted with her much.
School officials in Switzerland have said Kim Yo-jong was over-protected by the coterie of guards and caretakers – she once reportedly had a mild cold and was immediately pulled from school and taken to the hospital.
North Korea is marking the 70th anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party with huge parades in capital Pyongyang.
It is expected to be one of North Korea’s biggest celebrations ever.
A cavalcade of armored vehicles and ballistic missiles rumbled through Pyongyang, accompanied by marching troops.
North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un presided over the ceremony, but no world leaders attended.
Kim Jong-un said that North Korea was ready to fight any war waged by the US.
“The party’s revolutionary armament means we are ready to fight any kind of war waged by the US imperialists,” he said at Pyongyang’s main Kim Il-sung Square.
The celebrations featured thousands of soldiers – many carrying red party flags or banners – in tight square formations goose-stepping to martial music.
Tanks rolled past the podium where Kim Jong-un spoke, with an aircraft flypast forming the number 70.
When it announced plans for the anniversary earlier this year, the government spoke of “cutting-edge” weaponry suitable for modern warfare, and the day’s event will be closely watched for any new military hardware indicating North Korea’s military development.
China, North Korea’s closest ally, sent a senior Communist Party official to the anniversary.
Kim Jong-un began the day by paying respects to his late father and grandfather at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang, official media reported.
Officials did not divulge details of the day’s celebrations, although thousands of Pyongyang citizens have been seen in public squares across the city practicing for a torchlight parade to be held in the evening.
A stage has also been set up on a river for a late-night concert featuring the all-female Moranbong Band – North Korea’s most popular musical group.
North Korea is marking today the 101st anniversary of the birth of country’s founding father Kim Il-sung as tensions continue in the Korean peninsula.
Kim Jong-un, Kim Il-sung’s grandson, visited the mausoleum of his grandfather and his father Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang, the official KCNA news agency reports.
In recent weeks North Korea has threatened to attack South Korea, Japan and US bases in the region.
The US has ruled out holding any more “artificial talks” with North Korea.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said North Korea’s main diplomatic ally, China, had made a very strong statement criticizing Pyongyang for its recent behavior. He said he hoped Beijing was now recognizing the regional instability created by the actions of Kim Jong-un.
North Korea is marking the 101st anniversary of the birth of founding father Kim Il-sung as tensions continue in the Korean peninsula
Early on Monday Kim Jong-un was at the Kumsusan mausoleum to pay “high tribute and humblest reverence” to the country’s former leaders, KCNA reports.
The streets of Pyongyang are adorned with flags and banners for the holiday, a red-letter day for one of the world’s most powerful cults of personality.
Tensions have been high on the Korean peninsula after North Korea conducted its third underground nuclear test on February 12 that resulted in sanctions from the UN.
There is speculation that North Korea will use Kim Il-sung’s birthday for a missile launch.
At this time last year, North Korea launched a rocket with the stated aim of putting a satellite into orbit to mark the 100th anniversary of Kim Il-sung’s birth. The rocket broke up shortly after take-off.
The UN Security Council condemned the launch, which many outside the country saw as an illegal test of long-range missile technology.
On Sunday US Secretary of State John Kerry called on North Korea’s leaders to “come to the table in a responsible way” to end regional tensions, warning it risked further isolation if its threats continued.
He also reaffirmed the US commitment to defend its allies, including Japan.
Speculation has been building that North Korea is preparing a missile launch, following reports that it has moved at least two Musudan ballistic missiles to its east coast.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Beijing to urge China’s leaders to use their influence on North Korea to reduce regional tensions.
Speaking to China’s President Xi Jinping, John Kerry said the world was facing a “critical time”.
John Kerry’s four-day tour of Asia comes amid speculation that North Korea is preparing for a missile launch.
The secretary has said that as the closest ally of Pyongyang China should “put some teeth” into urging restraint.
A flurry of warlike statements from Pyongyang has prompted speculation that it might launch a missile – possibly on April 15, when the country marks the 101st birthday of the nation’s founder and former leader, Kim Il-sung.
North Korea has reportedly moved at least two Musudan ballistic missiles to its east coast, but on Saturday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted officials in Seoul as saying that no new movement of the mobile launchers had been detected for two days.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Beijing to urge China’s leaders to use their influence on North Korea to reduce regional tensions
Since the UN imposed fresh sanctions on North Korea in February, its leadership has promised to restart a mothballed nuclear reactor, has shut an emergency military hotline to South Korea, and has urged diplomatic staff to leave, saying it cannot guarantee their safety.
North Korea says it has also been angered by joint US-South Korean military exercises.
Though North Korean rhetoric has been more bellicose than usual, analysts say it fits a long-standing pattern, and may be intended to boost the popularity of Kim Jong-un, who came to power last year.
After arriving in Beijing on Saturday and holding talks with his counterpart, Wang Yi, John Kerry told Xi Jinping the world was facing “a critical time with some very challenging issues”.
Among them were Korean tensions but also “the challenge of Iran and nuclear weapons, Syria and the Middle East, and economies around the world that are in need of a boost”, he said.
John Kerry later said he and Xi Jinping had had “constructive and forward-leaning” talks, without giving further details, Reuters reports.
On Friday, during a visit to the South Korean capital, Seoul, John Kerry said the US would protect itself and its allies, and that his talks in Beijing would aim to “lay out a path that will defuse this tension”.
He said no country had a closer relationship with Pyongyang than China.
Beijing, like Washington, wanted denuclearization on the peninsula, he said, adding: “If that’s your policy, you’ve got to put some teeth into it.”
He warned North Korea against any missile launch, saying it would be a “provocation and unwanted act” which would further isolate North Korea and its people who, he said “are desperate for food, not missile launches”.
China is North Korea’s only ally and major trading partner, but has grown increasingly frustrated with its growing belligerence.
John Kerry will be pressuring China to use its economic leverage to force its rebellious ally to tone down its threats.
But in turn, China is pushing the US to do more to make North Korea feel secure.
In Seoul, John Kerry voiced his support for the vision of a reunified Korean peninsula – so far a development neither Chinese nor Korean leadership want to see.
Russia has also expressed growing concern over North Korea and said on Friday that it had issued “an urgent appeal” to Pyongyang “to refrain from actions which could lead to further escalation of tension”.
US officials including John Kerry have been playing down a leaked report from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) which warned there was “moderate” confidence Pyongyang had developed the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Pyongyang had “not demonstrated the capability to deploy a nuclear-armed missile”.
While the US and South Korea were on high alert for a missile launch on Thursday, North Korea was celebrating its ruling Kim dynasty and appeared to tone down rhetoric of impending war.
Despite threats it will attack US bases and the South in response to any hostile acts, North Korea started to welcome a stream of visitors for Monday’s birthday celebrations of its founding father, Kim Il-sung.
Performers carry a flag at the opening of the April Spring People’s Art Festival at the East Pyongyang Grand Theater on April 11.
The festival opened Thursday to mark late president Kim Il-sung’s birthday on April 15, known in North Korea as the Day of the Sun. In the background are portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and his son, Kim Jong-il.
Meanwhile Pyongyang issued a statement that appeared to be tinged with regret over the closure of the joint Kaesong industrial zone that was shuttered when it ordered its workers out this week, terming the North-South Korean venture “the pinnacle of General Kim Jong-il’s limitless love for his people and brothers”.
The statement on North Korea’s KCNA news agency blamed South Korean President Park Geun-hye for bringing the money-spinning venture to “the brink of shutting down.”
North Korea celebrates Kim dynasty with song and dance as world watches for missile launch
Kim Jong-il, Kim Il-sung’s son, ruled North Korea until his death in December 2011. He was succeeded by Kim Jong-un, the third of his line to preside over one of the world’s poorest and most heavily militarized countries.
Since taking office, Kim Jong-un, 30, has staged two long-range rocket launches and a nuclear weapons test. The nuclear test in February triggered UN sanctions that Pyongyang has termed a hostile act and a precursor to invasion.
For over a month, North Korea has issued an almost daily series of threats to the US and South Korea, most recently warning foreigners to leave the South due to an impending “thermonuclear” war.
Apart from the swipe at South Korea’s new president, verbal threats appeared to fall off as KCNA listed arrivals for the upcoming birthday celebrations, naming an eclectic mix ranging from Chinese businessmen to Cold War-era enthusiasts of its socialist monarchy and official ideology of “Juche,” or self-reliance.
Reinforcing the rule of the Kim dynasty and the legitimacy of Kim Jong-un to hold power in Pyongyang is a key tenet of North Korea’s ideology.
It was the first anniversary on Thursday of Kim Jong-un’s official ascent to power, although he became de-facto leader immediately after his father’s death.
Key North Korean anniversaries:
11 April – Kim Jong-un elected first secretary of the Workers’ Party, and late father Kim Jong-il named General Secretary for Eternity in 2012
13 April – Kim Jong-un appointed first chairman of the National Defence Commission in 2012
15 April – Birthday of state founder Kim Il-sung (15 April 1912- 8 July 1994)
What is it like to surf the internet in North Korea, the most secretive country on Earth?
It seems that North Koreans begin to put their lives at risk just to connect to the outside world.
There’s a curious quirk on every official North Korean website. A piece of programming that must be included in each page’s code.
Its function is straightforward but important. Whenever leader Kim Jong-un is mentioned, his name is automatically displayed ever so slightly bigger than the text around it. Not by much, but just enough to make it stand out.
It’s just one facet of the “internet” in North Korea, a uniquely fascinating place.
In a country where citizens are intentionally starved of any information other than government propaganda, the internet too is dictated by the needs of the state – but there is an increasing belief that this control is beginning to wane.
“The government can no longer monitor all communications in the country, which it could do before,” explains Scott Thomas Bruce, an expert on North Korea who has written extensively about the country.
“That is a very significant development.”
There’s just one cybercafe in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang.
Anyone logging on at the cafe would find themselves at a computer that isn’t running Windows, but instead Red Star – North Korea’s own custom-built operating system, reportedly commissioned by the late Kim Jong-il himself.
A pre-installed readme file explains how important it is that the operating system correlates with the country’s values.
The computer’s calendar does not read 2012, but 101 – the number of years since the birth of Kim Il-sung, the country’s former leader whose political theories define policy decisions.
Normal citizens do not get access to the “internet”. That privilege is left to a select number in the country, known as elites, as well as some academics and scientists.
What they see is an internet that is so narrow and lacking in depth it resembles more an extravagant company intranet than the expansive global network those outside the country know it to be.
“The system they’ve set up is one that they can control and tear down if necessary,” explains Thomas Bruce.
The system is called Kwangmyong, and is administered by the country’s lone, state-run internet service provider.
According to Thomas Bruce, it consists mainly of “message boards, chat functions, and state sponsored media”. Unsurprisingly, there’s no sign of Twitter.
“For a lot of authoritarian governments who are looking at what is happening in the Middle East they’re saying rather than let in Facebook, and rather than let in Twitter, what if the government created a Facebook that we could monitor and control?”
The Red Star operating system runs an adapted version of the Firefox browser, named Naenara, a title it shares with the country’s online portal, which also has an English version.
North Koreans begin to put their lives at risk just to connect to the outside world
Typical sites include news services – such as the Voice of Korea – and the official organ of the state, the Rodong Sinmun.
But anyone producing content for this “internet” must be careful.
Reporters Without Borders – an organization which monitors global press freedom – said some North Korean “journalists” had found themselves sent to “revolutionization” camps, simply for a typo in their articles.
Beyond the Kwangmyong intranet, some North Koreans do have full, unfiltered internet access.
However, it is believed this is restricted to just a few dozen families – most directly related to Kim Jong-un himself.
North Korea’s reluctance to connect citizens to the web is counteracted by an acceptance that, as with trade, it needs to open itself up slightly if it is to continue to survive.
While China has its infamous “great firewall” – which blocks out the likes of Twitter – North Korea’s technology infrastructure is described as a “mosquito net”, allowing only the bare essentials both in and out.
And it’s with mobile that the mosquito net is most porous.
While there is an official mobile network, which does not offer data connections or international calls, North Koreans are increasingly getting hold of Chinese mobile phones, smuggled across the border.
The handsets generally work within about 10 km (6 miles) of the border between the two countries – but not without considerable danger.
“The level of risk that people are taking now would be unthinkable 20 years ago,” says Nat Kretchun, co-author of a groundbreaking report into the changing media environment in North Korea.
The paper, entitled A Quiet Opening, interviewed 420 adults who had defected from the country. Among their stories was a glimpse at the lengths people would go to use these illegal mobile phones.
“In order to make sure the mobile phone frequencies are not being tracked, I would fill up a washbasin with water and put the lid of a rice cooker over my head while I made a phone call,” said one interviewee, a 28-year-old man who left the country in November 2010.
“I don’t know if it worked or not, but I was never caught.”
While the man’s scientific methodology is questionable, his fear was certainly warranted.
“Possession of illegal cellphones is a very major crime,” explains Thomas Bruce.
“The government has actually bought sensor equipment to try and track down people who are using them.
“If you use them, you want to use them in a highly populated area, and you want to be using them for a short amount of time.”
During his leadership, Kim Jong-il would parade hundreds of tanks through the streets to show himself as a “military genius”.
Many observers say that his son, Kim Jong-un, must in contrast show himself to have an astute technological mind, bringing hi-tech enhancements to the lives of his citizens.
But each step on this path brings the people of North Korea something they’ve not had before – honest information, which can have a devastating effect on secretive nations.
“I don’t see an open door towards an Arab Spring coming that way any time soon,” Thomas Bruce says.
“But I do think that people are now expecting to have access to this technology – and that creates an environment of personal expectation that cannot be easily rolled back.”
North Korean jargon buster
This is North Korea’s intranet, a closed system that those lucky enough to have access to can browse. Among the content are news websites, messageboards and other chat functions. Only the “elites” – members of high social standing – are permitted to use it, as well as some scientists and academics.
Koryolink is the official North Korean mobile network. Administered by Egyptian firm Orascom, it boasts over one million subscribers. However, it is not possible to make international calls on the service, nor can users access mobile internet.
Meaning My Country, Naenara is the name given to the main information portal on the North Korean intranet, as well as the specially designed version of the Mozilla Firefox browser.
Red Star OS
The Red Star operating system, used by computers in North Korea, is built on Linux, the popular open source software used by many in the wider world. Its introduction music is believed to be based on a classic Korean folk song, Arirang
Arirang Mass Games will be held in North Korean capital Pyongyang from August 1st until September 9th, 2012.
Mass Games takes place in the one of the biggest world’s stadium – Pyongyang’s May Day Stadium (for 150,000 visitors). The most magnificent show on Earth involves over 100,000 performers.
Amazing choreography, unbelievable synchronism and intricacy of acrobatic numbers – result of many months’ hard trainings of thousands of people. Ninety minute-long spectacular performance really astonishes imagination.
Arirang Mass Games will be held in North Korean capital Pyongyang from August 1st until September 9th, 2012
After success of the Arirang Festival in 2005, the organizers decided to extend Mass Games into next years. In 2007, August 16, Mass Games entered to Guinness Book of World Records. The record of “largest gymnastic and artistic performance in the world was created in Pyongyang, the capital of the DPRK” the Guinness Certificate says.
The Mass Games at Arirang Festival possess an important ideological character praising the Workers Party of North Korea, its armed forces, Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il. These messages may not be clear to foreign spectators who are not aware of North Korean iconography: a rising sun symbolizes Kim Il-Sung. When a gun is shown, it signifies the gun which Kim Il-Sung gave to his son Kim Jong-Il. The color red, particularly in flowers, stands for the working class. And the color purple and red flowers represent Kim Il-Sung (as the flower “Kimilsungia” is a purple orchid and the flower “Kimjongilia” is a red begonia). A snowy mountain with a lake represents Mount Paektu where Kim Jong-Il is said to have been born in a log cabin.
From as young as 5 years old, citizens are selected based on skill level to serve for the Arirang Festival for many years. In most cases this will be the way of life for them until retirement.
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to visit DPRK and to see the most spectacular show in the world!
Kim Jong-Un has made his first televised speech, as Pyongyang marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-Sung.
In front of cheering crowds, the new leader praised and offered respect to Kim Il-Sung – his grandfather – and his father, the late Kim Jong-Il.
As part of the celebrations, a huge military parade has been staged in the main square of Pyongyang.
Kim Jong-Un’s speech comes just two days after a failed rocket launch.
Kim Jong-Un has made his first televised speech, as Pyongyang marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founder, Kim Il-Sung
The attempted launch was condemned by the international community, amid concern that it was a covert test of long-range missile technology.
On Sunday, television footage showed thousands of soldiers carrying red flags marching into the square to the sound of drumbeats.
It is the first time Kim Jong-Un, believed to be in his late 20s, has been seen speaking publicly since taking power following the death of his father in December.
“I express my greetings to our compatriots in South Korea and across the world who dedicate themselves to reunification and the prosperity of the nations,” Kim Jong-Un said reading from a script, in an address which lasted more than 20 minutes, as the crowds applauded throughout.
“Let us move forward to final victory.”
Kim Jong-Un praised the country’s “military first” policy.
“Superiority in military technology is no longer monopolized by imperialists,” he said.
After the speech, soldiers marched past and saluted the leader. They were followed by tanks and artillery, and then an array of truck-mounted missiles.
Kim Jong-Un, the young North Korean leader, has been given two posts previous occupied by his late father, KimJong-Il.
Kim Jong-Un had been named chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission and a standing member of the Politburo, according to the state media.
The announcement came after North Korea held a rare party conference widely expected to see more power formally transferred to Kim Jong-Un.
The country is due to launch a rocket, set to go between Thursday and Monday.
North Korea says the rocket will put a satellite into orbit but the US says the launch is a disguised test of long-range missile technology.
The launch path will take the rocket south between the Philippines and Japan. Both South Korea and Japan have said that they will shoot it down if it threatens their territory.
Kim Jong-Un had been named chairman of the party's Central Military Commission and a standing member of the Politburo
The news of Kim Jong-Un’s new titles came after the ruling Korean Workers’ Party held a conference on Wednesday.
North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament is also meeting on Friday and the two meetings have been seen as forums for advancing the transition of power to Kim Jong-Un following the death of his father in December 2011.
Then on Sunday North Korea will mark the 100th anniversary of the birthday of national founder Kim Il-Sung – the grandfather of Kim Jong-Un – with mass celebrations.
North Korea says that the rocket launch is to commemorate Kim Il-Sung. It says that the satellite will send back weather and other data.
But critics say that the launch constitutes a test of long-range missile technology banned under UN resolutions.
The rocket is due to launch any day between 12 and 16 April from the Tongchang-Ri site on the country’s north-west coast.
A number of airlines have altered flight paths and the US has sent a ship-mounted radar to monitor the launch.
Japan said it was on alert ahead of the launch. “We want to be fully prepared for any possible contingency,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said.
Pyongyang agreed in February to a partial freeze in nuclear activities and a missile test moratorium in return for US food aid. But that deal was put on hold last month after the North announced its rocket launch plans.
North Korea has announced the launch of a satellite mounted on a rocket to mark the 100th birthday of its late former President Kim Il-Sung.
The rocket launch will take place between 12 and 16 April, a spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology said.
South Korea said the launch would be a “grave provocation” and Japan urged the North to “exercise restraint”.
The move is seen as violating UN Security Council resolutions passed after a similar launch in 2009.
Japan is particularly concerned as North Korea’s April 2009 rocket was launched over the country.
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Osamu Fujimura, told a news conference on Friday that his country had set up a crisis management taskforce to monitor the situation and was co-operating with the US and South Korea.
“We believe a launch would be a move to interfere with our effort toward a dialogue, and we strongly urge North Korea not to carry out a satellite launch,” Osamu Fujimura said.
North Korea plans of launching a rocket in April is seen as violating UN Security Council resolutions passed after a similar launch in 2009
South Korea’s foreign ministry said such a move would be a “clear violation” of UN Security Council Resolutions.
“It would be a grave provocation threatening the peace and security of the Korean peninsula and north-east Asia,” the ministry said in a statement.
Last month, Pyongyang agreed to suspend long-range missile tests.
The agreement was part of a deal for the United States to supply 240,000 tons of food aid to North Korea.
In the 2009 launch, Pyongyang said the satellite made it into orbit and characterized it as a test of its satellite technology.
The move drew condemnation from the US and South Korea and led to the UN resolutions prohibiting the North from nuclear and ballistic missile activity.
Foreign officials said there were no indications that a satellite had reached space and that the launch was a cover for Pyongyang to test long-range missile technology.
The launch next month of a ”working satellite”, the Kwangmyongsong-3, is an opportunity for ”putting the country’s technology of space use for peaceful purposes on a higher stage”, said a North Korean spokesman.
The rocket would be launched from the Solace Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan county, North Pyongan province on the country’s west coast.
State media also reported that the North has already launched two experimental satellites.
The 6-metre bronze statue depicts Kim Jong-Il riding a horse next to his late father, Kim Il-Sung, also on horseback
An immense statue of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has been unveiled ahead of Thursday’s celebrations of the 70th anniversary of his birthday.
This is the first bronze sculpture of Kim Jong-Il.
The 6-metre bronze statue depicts Kim Jong-Il riding a horse next to his late father, Kim Il-Sung, also on horseback.
The statues were unveiled in a ceremony attended by top military and political officials on Tuesday in the capital, Pyongyang.
Kim Jong-Un, Kim Jong-Il’s youngest son and heir to the leadership position, was not present, although he reportedly initiated the building of the statue.
A series of commemorative items and tributes have been released since Kim Jong-Il’s death on 17 December of a heart attack at the age of 69.
These included a giant slogan carved into a mountainside, postage stamps, medals and gold and silver coins bearing his image.
Kim Jong-Il reportedly shunned the idea of the bronze statue in his lifetime.
According to various accounts, Kim Jong-Il reportedly told state officials in 1999 that he was not ready for the adulation before fulfilling his promise of building an affluent society, the Associated Press reports.
North Korea said on Wednesday it has awarded the highest title of Generalissimo to Kim Jong-Il, the same rank as that held by his father, the country’s founding leader.
North Korea is believed to be planning widespread celebrations on Thursday, also dubbed “the day of the shining star”, even as worries continue over food shortages in the country.
North Korea has hailed Kim Jong-Un as “supreme leader of the party, state and army” after his father’s funeral.
Kim Jong-Un took centre stage at a memorial service in Pyongyang’s main square a day after his father’s funeral.
Kim Yong-Nam, formally the number two leader, told a million-strong crowd their sorrow would be turned into strength “1,000 times greater under the leadership of comrade Kim Jong-Un”.
State TV showed Kim Jong-Un surrounded by top government and army officials.
The memorial event appeared to be the Kim dynasty’s unofficial handover of power.
A three-minute silence was also held, after which trains and ships throughout the country sounded their horns.
North Korea has hailed Kim Jong-Un as "supreme leader of the party, state and army" after his father’s funeral
Kim Jong-Il died of a heart attack on 17 December, aged 69, state media said. He had ruled North Korea since the death of his father Kim Il-Sung in 1994.
“Respected Comrade Kim Jong-Un is our party, military and country’s supreme leader who inherits great comrade Kim Jong-Il’s ideology, leadership, character, virtues, grit and courage,” Kim Yong-Nam told the massive crowd gathered in Kim Il-Sung square.
“The fact that he completely resolved the succession matter is Great Comrade Kim Jong-Il’s most noble achievement.”
A top military official, Kim Jong-Gak, also addressed the crowd.
“Our people’s military will serve comrade Kim Jong-Un at the head of our revolutionary troops and will continue to maintain and complete the Songun accomplishments of great leader Kim Jong-Il,” he said.
Songun refers to the “military-first” policy – channeling funds into the military.
On Wednesday, thousands stood weeping and wailing in the snow as Kim Jong-Il’s funeral cortege passed, images from state television showed.
The ceremonies echoed the displays of pomp and military might that marked the death of Kim Il-sung, in 1994.
Kim Jong-Un – Kim Jong-Il’s third son – cried as he walked alongside the hearse. Tens of thousands of soldiers lined up to bow their heads in homage in the city’s main square.
Kim Jong-Un – who is thought to be in his late 20s and who has little political experience – was accompanied by his uncle, Chang Song-Taek.
Chang Song-Taek is expected to be a key player as the younger Kim Jong-Un consolidates power.
Kim Jong-Il – known in North Korea as the “Dear Leader” – was in the process of formalizing Kim Jong-Un as his successor when he died.
However, the transition was not complete, leaving regional neighbors fearful of a power struggle in the nuclear-armed pariah state.
Kim Jong-Il’s two older sons, Kim Jong-Nam and Kim Jong-Chol, were not seen at the funeral.
No foreign delegations have attended any of the events. However, UN offices around the world lowered their flags to half-mast.
A spokesman at the UN headquarters in New York said that the move had been requested by Pyongyang’s UN mission but was part of normal protocol for the funeral of any head of state.