North Korea marks 7th anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

After a rapid diplomatic rapprochement this year that culminated in the Singapore summit in June between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump, progress has stalled in talks on Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal.

The anniversary observations were expected to continue through Monday across the country.

The United States maintains that UN sanctions will remain in place until North Korea has fully scrapped its weapons programs.

The death of Kim Jong Il on December 17, 2011, thrust his son into power when he was still in his late 20s and a virtual unknown figure outside of the North.

Hong Min, a researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said at a forum on peninsula issues the North could have delayed talks on denuclearization because it may have to deal with domestic constituents before returning to the world stage, Seoul Pyongyang News reported.

Trump said in a news conference after the midterm elections he expects to meet with Kim sometime early next year.

The rogue regime, through a statement from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, gave credit to President Trump for his efforts to improve relations between the USA and North Korea - but slammed the State Department for stifling that progress, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.

The ministry said that, if the US believes North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons by increasing sanctions and their "human rights racket to an unprecedented level",.it would be the (quote) "greatest miscalculation".

Pyongyang's statement, cautioning that the USA policy of "maximum pressure" would be its "greatest miscalculation", follows Washington's decision last week to slap sanctions on three North Korean officials, including Choe Ryong-hae, a top aide to leader Kim Jong-un, for alleged human rights abuses.

The ministry noted that the United States administration had introduced "sanctions measures for as many as eight times against the companies, individuals and ships of not only the DPRK but also Russia, China and other third countries..."

The North has yet to come out with a Kim Jong Un pin or to order his image join the others on every wall, though Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, have been referred to with increasingly lofty titles - "chairman" for Kim and "respected first lady" for Ri. And unlike his father and grandfather, Kim's January 8 birthday has yet to be declared a national holiday or even marked on most calendars.

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