1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
PoliticsNorth Korea

North Korea marks founder's birthday without military show

April 16, 2022

North Korea celebrated its founding leader Kim II Sung's 110th birthday with a parade and performances. This year, however, there was no military parade during the celebrations.

Students and youth attend a dancing party in celebration of the 110th birth anniversary of its late founder Kim Il Sung
Thousands of young people performed a mass dance at Kim Il Sung Square in PyongyangImage: Cha Song Ho/AP Photo/picture alliance

North Korea celebrated the 110th birth anniversary of the late founder Kim Il Sung with a procession and an evening gala, state media said on Saturday.

The event took place at Pyongyang's main square on Friday, with thousands of performers singing and dancing, according to state media. 

"The Day of the Sun" is North Korea's biggest annual public holiday.

Kim, who died in 1994, is the grandfather of North Korea's current leader, Kim Jong Un.

He was born on April 15, 1912. The country marks his birthday every year, with grander celebrations on every fifth and tenth anniversary.

Performers at the birth anniversary celebrations in Pyongyang. (Photo by KCNA VIA KNS / AFP)
Performers wore colorful traditional attire.Image: KCNA/KNS/AFP

Kim Jong Un attends parade 

Leader Kim Jong Un attended the celebrations with a "national meeting and a public procession" in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square. He did not give a speech, according to media reports, and the event did not have a military parade this year. 

Kim also visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the bodies of Kim Il Sung and his son and successor Kim Jong Il lie in state.

"Let's work harder in devotion to our respected comrade Kim Jong Un and on that path ultimately realize the dreams of our great president [Kim Il Sung] to build a powerful socialist state," AP quoted the state-run website Uriminzokkiri as saying in a commentary.

Kim Jong Un became a third-generation leader after his father, Kim Jong Il, died in late 2011.

North Korean leader kim Jong Un greets crowds at Pyongyang.  (Photo by KCNA VIA KNS/AFP)
State media images showed Kim waving from a balcony looking over Kim Il Sung SquareImage: KCNA/KNS/AFP

Celebrations in Pyongyang

Residents of Pyongyang laid bouquets and bowed near the bronze statues of Kim II Sung and Kim Jong II, images showed.

The performance included young people dressed in Western wear as well as colorful traditional costumes dancing at the plaza. A display of fireworks was launched from a nearby riverbank into the night sky. 

Fireworks launched into the night sky. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
Fireworks were launched into the night sky, as seen in this imageImage: Jon Chol Jin/AP Photo/picture alliance

The dancers circled around a group of performers who held up yellow flowers to form the symbol of the Workers' Party of Korea — a hammer, brush and sickle.

North Korea often marks key state anniversaries with huge military parades featuring newly built missiles. 

International monitors had said commercial satellite imagery showed preparations for a military parade in the run-up to the holiday, but there was no confirmation of a parade happening as of Friday evening.

The celebrations come after North Korea resumed testing its largest intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in March for the first time since 2017. Seoul and Washington say there are signs it could soon resume testing nuclear weapons too. 

The leader of the isolated nation has pushed to advance nuclear weapons and revive the economy. However, US-led sanctions, pandemic closures, and mismanagement have deeply impacted the economy.

tg/fb  (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)