SEOUL: Mask-wearing North Koreans danced in a plaza or climbed a Pyongyang hill to mark the 109th birthday of the country’s founder amid pandemic fears and economic woes.
April 15, called “The Day of the Sun” in North Korea, is the country’s most important public holiday.
No major events like a military parade were expected this year as North Korea typically stages them for anniversaries that end in zero and five.
Kim Il-sung, a former guerrilla fighter during the Japanese colonial period, founded North Korea in 1948 and still maintains a godlike status in the North. He was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-il, after his death in 1994.
After Jong-il died in 2011, his son and current leader Kim Jong-un took power in the country’s second hereditary power transfer.
Yesterday, neatly dressed North Koreans visited Pyongyang’s Mansu Hill to lay flowers and bow below the towering bronze statues of Il-sung and Jong-il. Soldiers wearing masks saluted.
Elsewhere in Pyongyang, women in colourful traditional clothes performed a folk dance.
Other women passed along a nearby street decorated with a poster that read, “Kim Il-sung, our comrade and greater leader, will always be with us.”
Yesterday’s anniversary comes as Jong-un is rallying the public which has been struggling with an economy battered by a shortage of imported goods and sharply reduced trade due to pandemic-related border closures, US-led sanctions and natural disasters since last summer. — AP