North Korea has announced, once again, that it will not compromise on its nuclear and missile activities as the hermit kingdom gears up to mark the birth anniversary of late dictator Kim Jong-il, current leader Kim Jong-un's father.
The regime held a special assembly meeting on Thursday, 15 February, in the North Korean capital Pyongyang on the eve of the late leader's birth anniversary. Though the ruling Kim was not present during the meeting, the vice chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, Choe Ryong Hae, delivered an address.
Choe said the country is determined to pursue its nuclear programmes in order to strengthen its arsenal against outside forces. He added that the reclusive nation would also strive towards stabilising the situation in the Korean Peninsula, ensuring that peace prevails in the region.
However, Choe did not mention anything about the possibility of high-level contact between the leadership of the rival Koreas, despite recent developments suggesting that the ruling Kim had invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in for talks in Pyongyang.
Meanwhile, Kim paid his "high tribute" to his father at the mausoleum in Pyongyang at the stroke of midnight on Friday, 16 February, to commemorate the 76th birth anniversary. The mausoleum houses former leaders of North Korea and it is customary for high-ranking North Korean leaders to visit the place on key occasions.
The late leader's birthday is a national holiday in North Korea and is dubbed as the "Day of the Shining Star".
"He [Kim] entered the hall of immortality where Kim Jong-il lies in the state... (and) paid deep homage and made a bow," said a report which was carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Kim was accompanied by several top North Korean authorities as well.