Predictably, as the rhetoric cools and the drumbeats of war fade, the North Koreans are edging towards a position where they might - just might - be prepared to engage in talks. First, though, there'll need to be some serious apologising:
In response to the proposal for dialogue from Seoul and Washington, Pyongyang demanded “an apology” as a precondition for talks.
The North Korean army’s Supreme Command gave an “ultimatum” to the South Korean government yesterday.
“If the puppet groups indeed want a dialogue and a negotiation, they will have to show their practical will to cease and apologize for all of their anti-DPRK hostile acts they have committed so far,” the statement read.
North Korea also lashed out at some conservative South Korean activists who burned an effigy of leader Kim Jong-un as part of an anti-Pyongyang protest on Monday, the birthday of founder Kim Il Sung.
“Although the tense situation continues, we all raised ourselves up and celebrated our biggest national holiday, the Day of the Sun [the birthday of Kim Il Sung],” the statement said.
“The Southern puppet groups brought some anti-communist gangsters out to stage an anti-DPRK demonstration, burning the portrait of the symbol of our utmost dignity.”
Unfortunately though, as it turns out, a "symbol of our utmost dignity" has been suffering closer to home:
A mosaic wall erected in the North Hamkyung Province town of Musan to idolize Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il collapsed shortly before the April 15th “Day of the Sun” festivities for the birth of Kim Il Sung, sources from the region have reported to Daily NK. They claim that corruption led to poor construction, and this left the mosaic unable to withstand recent high winds.
This is the first known occasion whereupon a piece of state construction for the idolization of the North Korean leaders has collapsed in this way. Given the rarity of the event and the seriousness with which the North Korean leadership takes the idolization project in general, serious censure is thought likely for those deemed to have been responsible.
A source from Musan in North Hamkyung Province told Daily NK, “On the 14th, the very day before the Day of the Sun, this Kim Il Sung-Kim Jong Il mosaic wall that had stood in the center of Musan County just collapsed. The provincial Party, Central Party and provincial National Security Agency have all been mobilized to investigate the incident.”
The mural, which was 5mx8m, stood on a 4-way intersection outside Musan Station. According to the source, “A lot of people witnessed the collapse because it was built in the town center, so this news will spread rapidly and could easily become political.” In North Korea, such “political” issues usually result in serious punishment, since infringing the reputation of the nation’s leaders is extremely problematic.
Extremely problematic? Yes, I'd say that's fair comment.