North Korea Celebrates Founding Father’s Birthday


April 15, the birthday of the late Kim Il Sung is one of the most important dates in Pyongyang. (File)


North Korea celebrated the birthday of its founding leader on Friday, state media reported, but the mystery was surrounding when a military parade — at which the regime could unveil new weapons — could take place.

Known as the Day of the Sun in the nuclear-armed north, the April 15 birthday of the late Kim Il Sung – grandfather of current leader Kim Jong Un – is one of the most important dates on Pyongyang’s political calendar.

Leading up to the day, there has been a steady drumroll of celebratory coverage in the state media, including commemorative stamps, light festivals, dances and floral arrangements.

“I came to the light festival with my daughter. Looking at it today, it’s really cool. The most impressive thing is especially this one that says ‘self-reliance,'” Ri Bom Chol, a 40-year-old doctor, told an AFP reporter in Pyongyang.

The anniversary celebrations come three weeks after North Korea conducted its largest-ever intercontinental ballistic missile test — the first time Kim’s most powerful weapons have been fired at full range since 2017.

That test was the culmination of a record-breaking series of sanctions launches this year and marked the end of a self-imposed moratorium on long-range and nuclear tests.

Analysts along with South Korean and US officials had widely expected Pyongyang to mark April 15 with a military parade to unveil new weapons, or even a test of the country’s banned nuclear weapons.

But there was no mention of such an event in the state media on Friday. The official KCTV only reported that there would be a “grand performance” Friday night, followed by fireworks.

Seoul-based specialist site NK News said sources in the north heard helicopters and fighter jets flying low over Pyongyang very early on Friday, suggesting a military parade.

But an analysis of satellite images later Friday suggested no parade had taken place, the site added.

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Another expert said it now seemed likely that Pyongyang’s main military parade would be held on April 25 — the anniversary of the founding of the North Korean military.

“Since the two anniversaries are only ten days apart, it seems a bit difficult to have a parade on both occasions,” Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, told AFP.

On previous anniversaries, Pyongyang has broadcast images of military parades on state television many hours after the events and failed to flag them in advance in official newspapers.

Seoul military officials said they had no immediate information to share about a possible parade in Pyongyang, but the Unification Ministry said it was “closely monitoring” the situation.

Kim Il Sung died in 1994 but is the country’s “eternal president” and his preserved body lies in state in a red-lit room in the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun on the outskirts of the capital.

North Koreans are taught from birth to worship Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il, and all adults wear badges depicting one or both men.

“As the days go by, the desire for the great leader grows,” Ri Gwang Hyok, 33, told an AFP reporter in Pyongyang as they visited statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)

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