This years annual celebration of ‘Day of the Sun’ in North Korea is different, this time a ‘big announcement’ is expected ahead of this years event.
The Day of the Sun is an annual public holiday in North Korea on 15 April, the birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung, founder and president of North Korea. It is the most important national holiday of the country.
Kim Il-sung’s birthday, which had been an official holiday since 1968, was renamed Day of the Sun in 1997, three years after his death. The name takes its significance from the name of the leader. Il-sung is Korean for “become the Sun”.
North Koreans commemorate the holiday by visiting locations that have a connection with the life of the leader, such as thousands of statues scattered across the country, or Mangyongdae, his birthplace in the capital Pyongyang. The most important observances take place in the capital, including visits to Kumsusan Palace of the Sun where Kim Il-sung’s body lies in rest, and Mansu Hill Grand Monument, which features a very high statue of the leader.
The state seeks to provide its citizens with more food and electricity than is normally available, but success is not always guaranteed. Children, in particular, receive candy and other gifts attributed to love shown by the leaders.
Preparations take more than a month. Through April there are exhibitions, fireworks, song and dance events, athletics competitions, Juche idea seminars and visits to places connected with Kim Il-sung’s life, including his birthplace in Mangyongdae. Some of these events take several days. Foreign art groups and dignitaries are invited to visit North Korea during this time around the day itself known as Sun Festival.
The annual Kimilsungia festival and the April Spring Friendship Art Festival (held since 1982) are also held at around the time of the Day of the Sun. The latter typically features foreign performers from some 20 countries whose televised performances are an anticipated and well-liked rare glimpse of foreign culture for North Koreans.