BEIJING — North Korea took its angry rhetoric to an obscure Beijing art gallery on Monday, with its ambassador to China using an exhibition celebrating the 101st birthday of the North's founder Kim Il Sung to attack the United States and reject repeated calls by China to give up its nuclear program.
"Currently, enemy powers such as the United States are exerting unprecedented military and political suppression on our country," Ambassador Ji Jae Ryong told a small audience of about 60, made up half of North Koreas and half of Chinese.
"But we have unswervingly demonstrated the power of a nuclear state and a military power, and firmly maintained peace and stability on the peninsula, and even in Northeast Asia and the whole world," he said, standing on a small stage with pictures of Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il behind him.
"And that is because we embrace comrade Kim Jong Un as the top leader of our party and military," Ji added, referring to the North's unpredictable young new leader who took over from his father Kim Jong Il last year.
While China allowed the exhibit, consisting mostly of North Korean paintings and books, to go ahead, there were no obvious signs of Chinese officials in attendance, though the building belongs to a government-backed cultural association.
China is the North's most important diplomatic and economic backer, but Pyongyang has ignored repeated calls to return to denuclearization talks and Beijing's entreaties to dial down the tension have fallen on deaf ears.
The North has threatened nuclear attacks on the United States, South Korea, and Japan after new U.N. sanctions were imposed in response to its latest nuclear arms test in February.
As if emphasizing North Korea's special bond with China, Ji paid close attention to pictures of Kim Il Sung meeting the father of Communist China, Mao Zedong, and also of late leader Deng Xiaoping.
Still, he gave no sign that North Korea would follow the lead of Deng, who ushered in landmark economic reforms three decades ago which have transformed China.
"As long as we follow the lead of comrade Kim Jong-un, we are bound to obtain the great success of socialism," Ji said, admiring a photograph from last year of Kim Jong Un delivering a speech.
© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.