SEOUL (Reuters) – Kim Jong Un hobnobbed with a visiting Chinese ballet troupe as he capped a weekend of celebrations in the North Korean capital that conspicuously lacked a show of military might that marked many previous festivals.
The festivities surrounded the April 15 “The Day of the Sun”, the anniversary of the birth of the founder of North Korea and the Kim dynasty, Kim Il Sung, in 1912.
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On last year’s Day of the Sun, Kim put on a military parade bristling with his latest ballistic missiles, exacerbating international tension over his nuclear weapon and missile programs.
Past festivals also featured various cultural and economic displays, but the absence of military overtones this year was more in line with a message of reconciliation that Kim has sought to cultivate in recent months as he made his first visit to neighboring China and announced plans to talk with the leaders of South Korea and the United States.
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Photos released by state media, as well as by tour companies that brought foreign tourists in for the holiday and a Spring Friendship Art Festival, showed no weapons but instead a weekend of performances, fireworks, dancing and sports.
In pictures released by state media from a ballet performance late on Monday, Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, were seen applauding, posing with dancers, and laughing with the head of the Chinese Communist Party’s international liaison department, Song Tao.
Song led a Chinese...
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