PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — While the world watched the latest round of saber-rattling between Washington and Pyongyang, North Korea staged a massive rally and military parade Saturday to mark the 105th anniversary of its national founder, Kim Il Sung. There weren’t any nuclear tests or ballistic missile launches to mark the day. But concerns the rising tensions could lead to a real conflict were on the minds of many Koreans on both sides of the Demilitarized Zone.
The Associated Press talked to residents in Pyongyang and Seoul to get a feel for how the people at the center of the storm see the situation.
Of course, not all interviews are equal.
In Pyongyang, residents are careful to choose their words when speaking with the media, especially foreign media. Keeping on message with the government’s official line is expected. In Seoul, residents are accustomed to a media that can be both cantankerous and crucial to the survival of their democratic leaders.
Put them together and this is the contrast:
IN PYONGYANG, North Korea
An Yong Ae, a Pyongyang resident who marched in Saturday’s parade:
“We don’t care whether the situation is tense or not, we’ll definitely win because we’ve got our Marshal (Kim Jong UN). Our situation, our country’s situation, doesn’t depend on the regional situation. We’ll win because we’ve got our Marshal. That’s the kind of spirit I have when taking part in today’s big event.”
O Song Rim, who also took part in the North Korean parade:
“We follow the direction set by our Marshal, under the leadership of our party, and all our people and army will always stick to our own way — that’s what we showed the world with today’s big event. So in future too, whatever the situation is, whichever way the wind blows, whatever sanctions or pressure there are, we will stick to our way.”
IN SEOUL, South Korea
Company employee, Kwon Soon-yong, 55:
“We are in a situation where the South and North are confronting each other all the time … I served in the military a long time ago, but I am always tense. But our ultimate hope is that all these issues are resolved and the peninsula becomes unified by all means.”
College student Hong Dong-wan, 27:
“I believe we have to strongly respond to North Korea’s provocation. I think South Koreans do not seriously think about these kinds of provocations. We are in a state of crisis, but I believe that we have to act resolutely so that North Korea doesn’t provoke again.”
AP writer Jung-yoon Kim in Seoul contributed to this report.
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