North Korea Marks Late Founder's Birthday In Jovial Mood
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - APR. 15: North Korea on Wednesday marked the 103rd anniversary of the birth of its late founder Kim Il Sung in a jovial mood, at a time when the outside world is gauging whether a recent absence of major provocations from Pyongyang is a prelude to its broader diplomatic engagement later this year. The anniversary, known in the country as the "Day of the Sun," is a major holiday. There were numerous national flags and placards alongside major streets of Pyongyang celebrating the birthday of the founder, who died in 1994. While piles of "Kimilsungia," a purple flower of the orchid family named after him, were put on display in hotel lobbies and other places, new political slogans in public space had no indications that North Korea plans to make new threats of military action. North Korea also had a series of sports and cultural events over the last few days. On Sunday, around 650 foreigners were allowed to take part in a Pyongyang marathon organized for the commemoration. Women clad in chimajogori, traditional Korean jacket and skirt, were seen dancing in circles outside a major hotel in the capital and elsewhere. As always for the anniversary, citizens and military personnel on Wednesday laid flowers and bowed deeply before giant statues of the founder and Kim Jong Il, North Korea's previous leader who died in 2011, on Mansu Hill in the heart of Pyongyang and other monuments from early morning. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the preserved bodies of the two late leaders -- his grandfather and father -- are placed, at midnight with senior military officials, Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency said.
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