Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - North Korea marks founder’s birth with public procession but no military parade



North Korea marks founder’s birth with public procession but no military parade

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (centre) takes part in a photo session with participants in the 2021 military parade in Pyongyang. AFP

North Korea marks founder’s birth with public procession but no military parade

Kim Jong-un oversaw a huge public procession to celebrate the birthday of North Korea’s founding leader, state media images showed on Saturday, but the anniversary passed without an anticipated show of military strength.

Known as the Day of the Sun in the nuclear-armed country, the April 15 birthday of the late Kim Il-sung – grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un – is one of the most important dates in Pyongyang’s political calendar.

Analysts and South Korean and US officials had widely predicted a military parade or even a nuclear test, but the celebrations Friday involved a civilian parade, synchronised dancing and fireworks.

Photographs released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency showed thousands of colourfully dressed people marching through the capital’s Kim Il-sung Square as Kim looked on from a balcony.

“Columns of workers, peasant dancers and others marched past the square,” carrying banners and boards bearing socialist slogans, and a giant national flag, KCNA said.

Three generations of the Kim family have ruled the country since 1948.

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.

Civilian, not military

There was a steady drumbeat of celebratory coverage in state media leading up to the day, including the opening of new apartment complexes, light festivals and floral tributes.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A parade of ‘paramilitary and public security forces’ to celebrate the 73rd founding anniversary of North Korea in 2021 at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang. AFP

It was a calculated decision to highlight new apartments and citizens with smartphones taking pictures of flowers, said Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

“The Kim regime needs more sources of national pride and legitimacy than military parades,” he said.

“So the public commemorations around its founder’s birthday tried to portray an economy that is not only resilient but growing.”

The anniversary celebrations came three weeks after North Korea staged its largest intercontinental ballistic missile test ever – the first time Kim’s most powerful weapon had been fired at full range since 2017.

That test was the culmination of a record-breaking blitz of sanctions-busting launches this year and signalled an end to a self-imposed moratorium on long-range and nuclear tests.

The absence of military activity on the holiday “does not represent a shift away from North Korea’s military build-up”, Easley added.

Satellite imagery has shown signs of new activity at a tunnel at the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site, which North Korea said was demolished in 2018 ahead of a summit between Kim and then-US president Donald Trump.

South Korean officials have said Pyongyang could still stage a military parade or carry out a weapons test on or around April 25, the anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Kingdom’s rice crowned world’s No1

    Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol jasmine variety has been crowned the World’s Best Rice for the fifth time at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17, according to leaders of the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body. Phka Rumduol

  • Ministry to 'seek justice' for officials indicted in US for 'monkey smuggling'

    The Cambodian government and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said they will make the “utmost effort” to seek justice for a Cambodian official arrested in John F Kennedy International Airport in New York for allegedly conspiring to smuggle crab-eating macaque monkeys (Macaca fascicularis)

  • Takeo hand-woven silk items provide local high-quality alternative to imports

    After graduating from university and beginning her career as a civil servant at the the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Khieu Sina found time to establish a business that aligns with her true passion – quality hand-woven Khmer goods. Her product line, known as Banteay Srei,