As the 100th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung approaches, the Hermit Kingdom is gearing up for huge displays of national might, including the launch of a new rocket that is causing fireworks of a different sort in the international community. While North Korea claims the rocket is being used to ferry a peaceful satellite into space, the United States and others have claimed the real intent is to test long-range ballistic missile capabilities.
Rare photographs from inside the country show preparations in full swing for the anniversary, which takes place this Sunday, April 15. A small handful of foreign journalists were allowed access into the famously closed country on a tightly controlled trip to view the rocket and some obligatory North Koreans going about their daily lives.
Above, the Unha-3 rocket is pictured at Tangachai-ri Space Center on April 8, 2012. North Korea has confirmed its intention to launch the rocket despite international condemnations.