April is usually one of the most active and ceremonial months of the North Korean calendar, featuring a holiday to commemorate the birthday of the DPRK’s founding president Kim Il Sung, an international marathon, and the annual Spring Arts Festival.
It’s also one of the few months of the year when foreign journalists are normally invited en masse for large parades. Last year, for example, NK News observed a massive military parade in Kim Il Sung square to commemorate the late leaders 105 birth anniversary, an event which saw several new missile types revealed for the first time.
But this year there was no military parade, the marathon was smaller in scale than years prior, and a press trip to observe the Arts Festival was canceled at the eleventh hour.
Even the front page of North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun took an exceptional approach, including pictures on its April 15 front cover of a visiting Chinese delegation instead of publishing articles to promote festivities surrounding the memorial of Kim Il Sung.
Pictures obtained by NK News from throughout the north of the DPRK, too, reflect the changed priorities, evidencing much less of the pomp and splendor typically associated with the season.