[Photo] Kim Jong Un’s birthday still not a national holiday

The North Korean authorities have once again decided not to designate Kim Jong Un’s birthday as an official state holiday, as revealed by the official 2018 calendar. Many had believed that the leader’s birthday, January 8, would be a national holiday considering the country’s claimed successes with 16 missile tests, a 6th nuclear test, and “completion” of a nuclear-tipped missile in 2017. 
The 2018 calendar, produced and published by North Korea’s Foreign Languages Publishing House was recently obtained by Daily NK and contains captions designating the birthdays of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as national holidays, but the date entry for Kim Jong Un’s birthday is simply printed in black ink like any other day.
Regarding the omission, a source in South Pyongan Province told Daily NK, “International sanctions, especially those instituted after the 6th nuclear test in September, have caused a lot of hardship for workers with many losing their jobs as a result of the gradual slowing of coal exports. So public opinion of Kim Jong Un has dropped to a new low.” The continuing omission of the holiday could thus be due to a perception by the regime that perception of the leader is not sufficiently positive at this time.
“As the government pushes propaganda about its nuclear and missile development while even the more successful merchants are losing jobs and going hungry this year, people would only ridicule Kim Jong Un if they saw his birthday had been made a holiday,” the source continued. 
But despite the lack of an official designation, the state is still likely to acknowledge his birthday in an effort to improve the cult of personality. The source added that “the authorities will still conduct lectures to instill loyalty towards Kim Jong Un and distribute snacks to children on the day to boost public sentiment.”
North Korea has been heavily pushing propaganda through its media regarding the November 29 “Hwasang-15” missile launch conducted near Pyongsong. However, public sentiment appears to be heading in an entirely different direction. 
Although the impoverished nation’s rice and currency exchange markets have stabilized, if links to the international markets continue to be eroded, more of the country’s citizens will likely lose their jobs. In harsh economic times, more residents turn to illicit drug use and crime rates go up, leading to more arrests and crowded labor camps. It may have been the regime’s calculation that with stronger international sanctions continuing into next year, designating Kim Jong Un’s birthday a national holiday would be too risky.
Also consistent with last year’s calendar, the days marking Kim Jong Un’s ascension to First Secretary of the Korean Workers’ Party (April 11) as well as First Chairman of the National Defense Commission (April 13) have not been made public holidays, but are marked with a short description. Kim Jong Il’s birthday (February 16) falls on the same day as Seollal (Korean New Year) next year, so the two holidays are marked together. Other public holidays include Cheongweolboreum (first full moon of the lunar new year) on March 2, and Chungmyung Day on April 5. 
Another notable omission in the 2018 calendar is Mother’s Day, previously held on November 16. First instituted just 6 years ago in 2011, the date still appears marked as Mother’s Day, but without the red lettering indicating the day is a national holiday. A total of 68 national and traditional holidays are marked in the 2018 calendar. 
Major holidays in 2018 North Korean calendar
1.1 – Solar New Year’s Day
2.16 – Birth date of Kim Jong Il (“Gwangmyungsung Day/Day of the Shining Star”) AND Seollal (lunar new year)
3.2 – January 15th of the Lunar Calendar (first full moon of the lunar new year)
3.8 – International Women’s Day
4.5 – Chungmyung Day
4.15 – Birth date of Kim Il Sung (“Taeyang Day/Day of the Sun”)
4.25 – Korean People’s Army Foundation Day
5.1 – Labor Day
6.6 – Korean Children’s Union Foundation Day
7.27 – “Day of Victory in the Fatherland Liberation War”
8.15 – Liberation Day 
8.25 – Day of Songun
9.9 – National Day
9.24 – Chuseok
10.10 – Party Foundation Day
12.27 – Constitution Day
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