North Korea is planning a party. Next month, the reclusive country will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the country, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. And there are signs that the event, which will take place Sept. 9, will be a celebration to watch.
Those observing the preparations for the event have spotted practice for a military parade, while tourist visas to the country have apparently been blocked–sparking speculation about who, exactly, the VIP guests could be.
The North Korean state cherishes anniversaries, using them to reinforce the tale of how their small, embattled state fought off bigger foes such as imperial Japan and the United States. This year’s DPRK anniversary event will be different, however. In many ways, the messaging behind it will be more complex.
North Korea was previously happy to menace the United States and other rivals with visions of military might as tensions escalated rapidly. Now, Pyongyang clearly views things differently. As such, although relations are nominally warmer with the United States, a surprise Trump visit to Pyongyang on Sept. 9 looks unlikely. Instead, many are expecting a different guest–Chinese President Xi Jinping–whose presence would send a message to Washington that it isn’t the only game in town.