No obvious signs of a countdown to war between North Korea and the United States were found in Pyongyang on Saturday, but strong anger over the latest U.N. sanctions was widely shared by locals.
A series of mass rallies supporting a recent government statement denouncing the sanctions have been held in the heart of the North Korean capital since Wednesday, with party officials, soldiers and students voicing their determination to fight against the United States.
There are also new slogans on the streets eulogizing North Korea's advancement in its nuclear and missile capabilities.
"We are now equipped with a ballistic missile that is capable of gaining ascendancy over the United States," said Kim Mi Yong, a 43-year-old university teacher. "We all feel like we want to press the launch button by ourselves and we are determined to battle against the United States until the last minute."
Amid growing fears in the international community over a possible conflict between North Korea and the United States, people in the capital, however, otherwise appeared as usual.
Making the most of the homestretch of summer, men were crowding standing bars and enjoying drinks with their friends, while a new park that opened last month to teach children traffic safety was packed with families.
"There are not that many who take Trump's words at face value as he has been making irresponsible remarks almost all the time," said a North Korean woman who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Rather, we are more furious about the adoption of a U.N. resolution entailing real measures."
The new sanctions endorsed unanimously by the U.N. Security Council a week ago following North Korea's two long-range missile tests last month are aimed at slashing its $3 billion annual export revenue by a third, including a ban on all exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood.
North Korea has reacted sharply to the imposition of the sanctions, with a government statement released Monday warning of "resolute action of justice."
North Korea in the statement denounced the U.S.-led sanctions as "flagrant infringement upon its sovereignty and an open challenge to it" and threatened Washington with possible retaliatory measures.
On Tuesday, North Korea then unveiled its readiness to fire four intermediate-range ballistic missiles over Japan to land in waters in the vicinity of the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, home to about 7,000 troops and 160,000 people.
The regional situation was already tense after North Korea test-launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July. But since its preparedness to target the Pacific island surfaced, U.S. President Donald Trump has been issuing stern warnings to the country's leader.
"Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely," Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday. "Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!"
Referring to the North Korean leader, Trump also told reporters, "If he does anything with respect to Guam or any place else that's an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it. And he will regret it fast."
North Korea has said it will develop a plan by mid-August to launch the four missiles near Guam to teach Trump a lesson.
Around the same time, North Korea is also busy with a slew of events aimed at singing the praises of the ruling Kim family.
The five-day "international" political and cultural events from Sunday to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Kim becoming its top leader will take place in Pyongyang and Mt. Paektu.
The celebrations are being organized as this year also marks the 105th birth anniversary of its late founder, Kim Il Sung, and the 75th birth anniversary of Kim Jong Il, the previous leader who died of heart failure in late 2011.
A number of posters and flags for the upcoming events, to be also attended by guests from foreign countries, were seen in the North Korean capital.
Kyodo News journalists traveling from Beijing to Pyongyang by air on Thursday noticed that the North Korean ambassadors to China, Russia and the United Nations, in addition to the country's Foreign Minster Ri Yong Ho, who was returning from Malaysia after attending a regional security meeting, were on the same flight.
It remains unclear if the key ambassadors arrived in the capital to participate in those celebrations or for the purpose of discussing a detailed diplomatic response as tensions escalate between Pyongyang and Washington.