Festive mood grips N. Korea as late founder’s birthday nears


A festive mood was pervading North Korea Saturday as the birthday of the communist state’s late founder drew near, with a series of exhibitions and gatherings being held, the North’s state media reported.

Pyongyang has staged art, sports and dance events annually for the birthday of Kim Il-sung, which falls on April 15, and is also known as the Day of Sun. Kim died of heart failure on July 8 1994 at the age of 82, and his son Kim Jong-il took power afterward.

Art troupes from China, Russia, Japan, Kazakhstan, India and Indonesia staged performances in Pyongyang on Saturday, the third day of the country’s April Spring Friendship Art Festival, according to the North’s state media.

A flower exhibition for “Kimilsungia,” an orchid named after Kim, was opened Friday with the North’s and foreign officials in attendance. The exhibition will be run until Thursday.

The festive mood is expected to culminate when the North stages the pro-unification Arirang festival Sunday through May 20. It is one of the North’s major gymnastics events and is popular among both Western and South Korean visitors.

Foreign delegations also have arrived Pyongyang to celebrate Kim’s birthday, the state media reported.

An Indonesian delegation made a visit to the North’s Mansudae Assembly Hall on Friday and conveyed a present to the incumbent North Korean leader via Kim Young-dae, the North’s No. 3 leader. It also toured Mankyongdae, the birthplace of the late founder in a rural village near the North Korean capital.

A Russian delegation also paid homage to a Kim Il-sung statue at the Mansudae Assembly Hall, while a Mongolian delegation paid visits to art exhibition halls and other sites to commemorate the birthday.


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