The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea celebrated the 64th anniversary of the state’s founding on Sept. 9 with mass displays of gymnastics and flash cards at a Pyongyang stadium, in which 100,000 people participated.
As acrobats and gymnasts by the thousands coordinated complex routines on the field, tens of thousands of students in the stands flipped poster-size cards to create colorful scenes in sync with the action. The training and intense discipline that make these spectacular displays possible is unparalleled in the world, and symbolizes the determination of the Korean people to work together in unison to build their nation and their socialist society.
This was the first year that the DPRK’s young new leader, Kim Jong Un, presided over the ceremonies. Kim has shown a firm hand in bolstering the nation’s defenses.
In late August, the U.S. and Japan, the two big imperialist powers that have tried to dominate all of Korea for more than a century, carried out large-scale war exercises right off the southwest coast of the DPRK, together with puppet forces from south Korea. Kim went to the island closest to where a clash occurred during similar provocations last year and told the soldiers to be prepared to retaliate and defend it with their lives if even one shot were fired by the other side.
At the same time, Kim has been stressing economic development to improve the lives of the people.
Blocks of new modern apartment buildings in Pyongyang, the capital, were completed in time for the anniversary celebrations.
Reports from Western visitors to the DPRK say the food situation there has much improved this year, despite several damaging storms and floods. Much work has been done over the last few years to reclaim land by both irrigation and flood control, as well as the planting of new orchards and the cultivation of crops suitable to the climate.
The Korean press reports achievements over the past year in iron and steel production and the expansion of the vinalon industry. Vinalon is a uniquely Korean textile made from two resources abundant there: anthracite coal and granite. A Korean scientist found a way to create fibers from these materials that can be woven into a high-grade synthetic fabric similar in appearance to silk, but more durable and able to take color dyes well.
Ingenuity, organization and the determination of the people to defend their social system while adapting modern technology to their needs continue to resonate from the DPRK.
Griswold has visited both north and south Korea half a dozen times, beginning in the 1970s.