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N. Korea to Stage Major Holiday Overshadowed by Nuclear, Missile Tensions

N. Korea to Stage Major Holiday Overshadowed by Nuclear, Missile Tensions

Wednesday, 13 April, 2022 - 08:15
A huge North Korea flag is displayed in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on Sept. 9, 2021. (KCNA/Reuters)

North Korea is preparing to celebrate its most important holiday on Friday, overshadowed by international concerns that Pyongyang may stage a major weapons test.

From floral baskets to ballistic missiles, here is the history of the holiday, and expectations for this week's events.

* "The Day of the Sun" is an annual public holiday that commemorates the birth anniversary of founder Kim Il Sung, who died in 1994.

* This year's holiday marks 110 years since Kim was born on April 15, 1912, and North Korea typically stages bigger celebrations on every fifth and tenth anniversary. On the 100-year anniversary in 2012, for example, Kim's grandson, Kim Jong Un, gave his first public speech as the country's new leader.

* The celebrations come after North Korea resumed testing in March of its largest intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), for the first time since 2017, and officials in Seoul and Washington say there are signs it could soon resume nuclear weapons tests too. Major weapons tests are sometimes timed for key holidays.

* North Korea appears to be preparing for a major military parade, with troops and vehicles spotted practicing in commercial satellite imagery. Recent parades have been held at night, and showcased new weapons, including massive ICBMs.

* Delegates flock to the capital Pyongyang for events from parades to concerts and ideological events staged by the ruling Workers' Party of Korea. Though North Korea has not officially reported any coronavirus infections, it has imposed travel and other curbs to prevent an outbreak. Still, it has staged large public events during the pandemic and it is unclear if the risk will affect this year's celebrations.

* State media hailed Kim Il Sung as the "benefactor of all people" who is "always alive in the mind of mankind" in articles this week, saying Kim Jong Un received flowers and congratulatory letters from foreigners, while admirers of North Korea's Juche ideology held seminars as far away as Bangladesh.

* Kim Jong Un has traditionally visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the resting-place of the embalmed bodies of Kim Il Sung and his son and successor, Kim Jong Il. Notably, Kim Jong Un did not visit in 2020, setting off speculation about his health.

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