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(LEAD) N. Korea kicks off 2017 with large-scale fireworks display

All News 18:04 January 01, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS N. Korean leaders activities in last 2 paras)

SEOUL, Jan. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea kicked off the new year with a large-scale fireworks display over the capital city, the country's state-run media said Sunday.

According to Chosun Central TV, the fireworks lit up the sky along the Daedong River that flows through Pyongyang. The 20-minute-long display was broadcast live to the country with the media outlet reporting that a countless number of people saw the display that began at midnight.

The television announcer said that 2016 was a memorable year for the DPRK since it successfully tested its first hydrogen bomb and fired off its Kwangmyongsong-4 long-range rocket early in the year.

The DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

North Korean watchers said the reclusive regime has been celebrating the start of the new year with fireworks since 2013.

They said the display is intended to uplift overall morale and give its people confidence.

The TV station, however, did not mention North Korean leader Kim Jong-un or other senior members of the ruling party, government or military taking part in the fireworks display.

Kim, however, showed up at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun later in the day and paid tribute to his grandfather and father. The palace in the capital city is a mausoleum where the embalmed bodies of former leaders of the country Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il lie in state.

The Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, reported Kim was accompanied by his wife Ri Sol-ju and other top officials, including Kim Young-nam, the North's ceremonial head, and Hwang Pyong-so, the director of the military's general political bureau and the prime minister.


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