Where Are North Korea's Missiles? Kim Jong Un Ditches 'Day of the Sun' Military Parade for Ballet

North Korea kept up the appearance of a peace-loving nation as it celebrated the birthday of the country's founder Kim Il Sung on April 15, forgoing the military parade usually held on the occasion.

The date marks one of the North Korean calendar's most important holidays, also known as "Day of the Sun." Last year, the country hosted a massive display of military might to honor Kim Il Sung's 105th birth anniversary in a political climate marked by tensions in the Korean peninsula due to the North's missile testing and fiery rhetoric.

There was nothing of the sort this year, as no missile or missile-shaped objects were to be seen—likely as a reflection of the resumption of dialogue with South Korea ahead of a highly-anticipated summit between Pyongyang and Seoul later this month.

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Students take part in a mass dance event during celebrations marking the anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang April 15, 2018. Thousands of North Korean devotees laid flowers before statues of the country's founder Kim Il Sung on April 15 on the anniversary of his birth. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Over the weekend, the North Korean capital Pyongyang held a series of cultural events, such as the traditional mass dance public events, the Spring Friendship Art Festival—which included performances from the Chinese National Ballet—a flower festival known as "Kimilsungia," which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, and sports events including a basketball match.

Even the stamps issued to commemorate the occasion simply featured a reference to the resistance against the Japanese occupation of 1910-1945—a struggle shared by both North and South Korea—instead of any weaponry display or mentions of the 1950-53 Korean War.

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People are seen during the 20th Kimilsungia Festival on the anniversary of the birthday of founder Kim Il-sung in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang April 13. KCNA/via Reuters

North Korean leader, Kim Il Sung's grandson Kim Jong Un, visited his ancestors' mausoleum along with ruling party officials on Sunday, as tradition dictates.

Later that evening, he hosted a banquet for the Chinese delegation and art troupe, whose performance, described as the "ballet choreodrama 'Red Women Company'" in North Korea's state-controlled media, he attended on Monday night. His wife Ri Sol Ju, now officially the first lady, enjoyed the previous night's performance alone. The couple was pictured enthusiastically greeting the artists and posing for a group photo with the performers.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, his wife Ri Sol Ju and Song Tao, head of the International Department of Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, applaud with ballet dancers in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang April 17. KCNA/via Reuters

During last year's parade, North Korean soldiers marched down Pyongyang's main Kim Il Sung Square along with various types of ballistic missiles as Kim Jong Un looked on approvingly.

Kim's close aide Choe Ryong Hae used his 2017 speech to launch a stern warning against the U.S. "If the United States wages reckless provocation against us, our revolutionary power will instantly counter with annihilating strike, and we will respond to all-out war with all-out war and to nuclear war with our style of nuclear strike warfare."

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Korean People's Army (KPA) soldiers pose for a group photo after paying their respects before the statues of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, at Mansu hill in Pyongyang, April 15. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea most recently held a military parade on February 8 to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army, just a day before North Korean athletes marched together with South Korean Olympians at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

"Under the present situation which the U.S. and their followers are fussing over on the Korean Peninsula, our army should maintain a high level of military readiness and accelerate the preparation for battle," the North Korean leader said in his February speech, quoted in Reuters.

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Spectators stand before a fireworks display over the Taedong river during celebrations marking the anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, April 15, 2018. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

The only explosive element in this year's celebration was the pyrotechnic display illuminating the sky above Pyongyang's Taedong river. Korean People's Army (KPA) soldiers still made an appearance, along with youth league members, school children and civilians, but only to lay flowers before Kim Il Sung's statue.

Where Are North Korea's Missiles? Kim Jong Un Ditches 'Day of the Sun' Military Parade for Ballet | World
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