Ice-replicas of a North Korean submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), jet fighters, ships, and tanks are being featured at a festival in downtown Pyongyang, a state news broadcast showed on Monday.
The inclusion of Pyongyang’s yet-to-be-perfected SLBM system among the military ice models on display appeared designed to emphasize the country’s emerging nuclear weapons capabilities to a domestic audience.
“This ice sculpture in the shape of Polaris (Pukkuksong-1) ballistic missile soaring up in the air lets us have national pride for living in the Eastern nuclear power state or the strong military power,” said Kang Seung Won, a local interviewed by the state broadcaster.
At least some of the military-themed ice display was sculpted using ice imported from hundreds of miles away, the broadcast further indicated.
“These sculptures are made from natural ice patches from Samjiyon, each of which is handcrafted,” said Kim Il Kyung, a military official interviewed by KCTV.
Samjiyon is close to the peak of Mt. Paektu, which North Koreans consider a sacred landmark. It’s also a location which has hosted previous ice sculpture festivals that coincided with the late Kim Jong Il’s February birthday, going back annually as far as 2011.
One observer said the military focus showed how in North Korea “not even innocent-seeming ice sculptures are free from ideological influence.”
“Rather than building Frosty the Snowman or winter animals, the North Korean ice sculptors crafted tanks, rockets, military ships, and planes,” said Benjamin Young, a PhD candidate focused on DPRK history at George Washington University and an NK News contributor.
“Although impressive in detail and skill, these ice sculptures are just another reminder that the DPRK will never abandon its militaristic identity.”
A separate January 4 English language report published by the Rodong Sinmun website said “scores” of sculptures were being displayed at the 2017 Pyongyang festival, though publicly accessible photos and videos only showed a small selection.
Other sculptures at the festival – taking place adjacent to Kim Il Sung square – included mock-ups of the Juche Tower, a tower-block from the newly completed Mirae Scientists Street, and dolphins jumping from water.
Soldiers, parents, students and children were shown enjoying the ice display.
Additional reporting: Seoyeon Kim
Main picture: KCTV