Pyongyang cancels inter-Korean celebration of Liberation Day

The official reason is the floods. But this may be a move by the regime to isolate the nation again and to seek to revive humanitarian aid that was stalled after its missiles test launches on 4 July.

Seoul (AsiaNews/JAD) – The North Korean government yesterday told Seoul that it has decided to scrap the scheduled inter-Korean celebration of Liberation Day, which is held every 15 August to mark the liberation of the peninsula from Japanese domination.

Pyongyang used the damage caused by floods that recently struck the country as an excuse. But many analysts saw the move as an extreme bid by the Stalinist regime to isolate the nation again, after the international community decided to impose sanctions to punish its missiles test launches on 4 July.

The North Korean committee responsible for improving ties with the south of the peninsula gave an official explanation: "Due to the unusually heavy rainfall, both Koreas suffered great damage: we cannot celebrate the event together."

But Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea specialist at Seoul's Dongguk University, highlighted other possible reasons: "The North faced the floods amid the national crisis after the missile firings and South Korea and the United States begin their joint military drill on 21 August. Most probably this was the true reason for the cancellation of the joint ceremonies."

He added: "Pyongyang probably wants to give the impression of great vulnerability to induce assistance from the international community, which no longer intends to help the regime after the missiles launched towards Japan and America. This is why it is emphasizing the amount of damage it had suffered.

The first inter-Korean Liberation Day was held in 2001 as a "private event"; government officials from both sides began participating last year.