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Analysis: N.Korea Marks Party Birthday

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il (C), Chinese Vice Prime Minister Wu Yi (L) and North Korean Supreme People's Assembly President Kim Yong-Nam (R) attend a ceremony to celebrate the completion of a glass factory near Pyongyang, 09 October 2005. The Chinese delegation led by Wu Yi are now in Pyongyang to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Workers' Party of Korea. As North Korea's all-powerful Workers Party marks its 60th birthday 10 October 2005, speculation is rife that its dictator Kim Jong-Il may anoint his successor by picking one of his three sons to preserve his dynasty. AFP PHOTO/KCNA via Korean News Service

Seoul (UPI) Oct 10, 2005
North Korea did not announce any major polices or its next leader on the founding anniversary of its ruling communist party on Monday, betraying widespread outside expectations.

The isolated nation just held a routine massive public rally and a military parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the Workers' Party, vowing to stick to its leader Kim Jong Il's "songun ( military-first) politics."

It reduced political events for this year's party birthday, and instead it held more ceremonies for new economic achievements, inviting a number of foreign dignitaries to a gala gymnastic and artistic performance show in a Pyongyang stadium.

South Korean officials said this year's functions are largely aimed spreading optimistic view across the troubled society. "This indicates that North Korea would focus its national efforts on reviving its tattered economy and normalizing management of state affairs," said an official at the Unification Ministry.

Many analysts and officials in Seoul expected North Korea to mark this year's Party birthday with major policy announcements as it did in the past. The North has used the country's main festivity to unveil key policy guidelines every five or ten years, such as announcing the country's next leader or its ruling idea.

This year, however, North Korea failed to come up with any major policies. It held a military parade in central Pyongyang on Monday, the first such event in five years.

Kim Jong Il, who rules the country in the capacity of the military commander, made a rare public appearance at the Pyongyang square for the military parade involving hundreds of thousands of military personnel, civilians and students. He reviewed the parade from a platform and took the salute, but did not make a speech.

Thousands of brown-uniformed soldiers goose-stepped across the square, with pink balloons flying overhead. Citizens with red and purple plastic flowers in their hands shouted out: "Kim Jong Il, we unite as one," North Korean television footage showed.

The huge square was decorated for the occasion with large, inflatable letters saying, "Celebrating the 60th anniversary." Red flags bearing the party logo fluttered from building tops surrounding the square.

The North did not, however, display any new missiles or other heavy armaments in the military parade, something it was expected to do. The North's state media made few criticisms on the United States.

China's Vice Premier Wu Yi, who is visiting Pyongyang as Beijing's chief delegate for the North's festivity, also attended the military parade, along with other foreign visitors.

Ranking Pyongyang officials who attended the ceremony included Jo Myong Rok, director of the general political bureau of the People's Army, Premier Pak Pong Ju and Kim Il Chol, minister of the People's Armed Forces, according to the North's media reports.

"We will, with our lives, protect the lives of the revolutionary leadership led by comrade Kim Jong Il," Kim Il Chol said in a speech, saying that giving priority to reinforcing military power is essential to build a self-reliant country.

Kim also called on North Koreans to unite under the leadership of the Workers' Party to speed up economic construction and build more powerful country.

On the eve of the anniversary, North Korea held a massive public rally at the 150,000-seat May Day stadium packed by North Koreans, which was followed by a mass performance.

In a main address, Kim Yong Nam, who serves as ceremonial head of state as chairman of the presidium of the legislative Supreme People's Assembly, called for all-out national efforts to transform the impoverished country into a "powerful and prosperous" state.

"We should fully embody the Party's Songun politics, an all-powerful treasured sword for victory in our revolution, under any circumstances and conditions and direct primary efforts to the strengthening of the Korean People's Army and the development of the national defense industry to consolidate the military position of our revolution as firm as an iron wall," Kim said.

North Korea held 26 political events for this year's Party birthday, less than when it marked the 55th anniversary.

Instead, North Korea constructed or improved 22 industrial facilities to mark this year's party anniversary. They include modern factories to produce glass and bicycles and hydraulic power plants.

Pyongjin factory in Pyongyang invested by China was North Korea's first bicycle plant, which will produce up to 300,000 units a year. Energy-starved North Korea needs some 7 million bicycles, but it has depended on the second-hand imports from neighbors Japan and China, according to Seoul officials.

"North Korea's focus on economic development for the Workers' Party anniversary this year indicate its hope to forge friendly ties with foreign nations dominated by the nuclear issue for the past three years," said Kim Kun-shik, a professor at Kyungnam University, south of Seoul.

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