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The Boston Globe

World

Calm on key North Korean holiday

PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Koreans celebrated the birthday of their first leader Monday by dancing in plazas and snacking on peanuts, with little hint of the fiery language 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.

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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.

Pyongyang’s own media gave little indication Monday of how high the tensions are.

The Rodong Sinmun, the Workers’ Party newspaper, covered current leader Kim Jong Un’s overnight visit to the Kumsusan mausoleum to pay respects to his grandfather. There was only one line at the end of the article vowing to bring down the ‘‘robber-like US imperialists.’’

Kim Jong Un’s renovation of the memorial palace that once served as his grandfather’s presidential offices opened to the public on Monday. Residents dressed in their finest walked from all parts of Pyongyang to lay flowers and bow before the bronze statues of Kim and his son, late leader Kim Jong Il, as the mournful ‘‘Song of General Kim Il Sung’’ played over and over.

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