April 15th, North Korea’s National Event & National Nuisance

[imText1]April 15th is considered the biggest event of the year in Chosun (North Korea) and since 1998 has been called “The Day of the Sun.”

In Chosun, Kim Jong Il is praised as “Chosun’s founder of socialism.” Simply put, it means that if Kim Il Sung had not been born on April 15th as the Sun of Chosun, then today Chosun would not exist as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This is true. If Kim Il Sung had not been born, the people of Chosun would not be living in disorder begging for foreign aid.

Then why is Kim Il Sung’s birthday called the “Day of the Sun.” On April 15th 1912, the great Titantic sunk to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Ironically, Chosun’s revolutionary history analyses the Titantic’s death in the Atlantic as symbolic fate for the birth of Kim Il Sung. While the sinking of the Titantic is considered an omen for the collapse of Western forces, Kim Il Sung’s birth is argued to represent the rise of Eastern powers. Hence the title “the day of the sun,” to symbolize the rising fate of the Eastern world.

In the past, Kim Il Sung’s birthday was much anticipated as people were given free gifts. Today, these feelings have dissipated with greatest antipathy displayed by Pyongyang citizens.

As April 15th approaches, the whole nation prepares for a festive gala. From gymnastic performances to art exhibitions to light parades. Preparations begin 3~4 months prior to the d-day while other “lucky” people train for one year.

Following is a list of activities and events that occur in Pyongyang in celebration of Kim Il Sung’s birthday

◆ Political event: loyalty declaration

From the top of the ladder to the bottom of the regime, all political groups and organizations must conduct general meetings to educate people on the purpose of celebrating April 15. Here, revolutionary ideologies revolving 4.15 are discussed and pledges made to adore Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. All educational systems including elementary schools receive revision tests with 4.15 math questions in which each student must score perfect. Even students are tormented by Kim Il Sung’s birthday.

◆ Decorations and Inspirational Environmental business

By April, the remnants of winter have faded away and a new season of decorations spread throughout the nation. At 5AM, leaders of People’s Unit come knocking on your door to “spring clean” not only your home but the whole nation. Buildings are repainted, streets paved and flowers re-bedded.

After work, everyone must go to their allocated schools and participate in extra work. In particular, people in Pyongyang are harassed to work twice as hard to clean the city as many foreigners visit Pyongyang during this time.

One major event is creating artwork representing one’s devotion to Kim Il Sung. Each organization and even school groups become very competitive. It is common for people to collate money to purchase special materials for this event. Posters can be found throughout the nation and banners which say, “Our dear great comrade Kim Il Sung is with us forever!”

In addition to this, flowers are replanted near Mt. Keumsoo Memorial Palace (Kim Il Sung’s tomb) and lamp stands are even placed in certain areas such as the Kim Il Sung’s statues. However, once these lights are in place, university students are put on guard in case anyone comes along and tries to steal them.

People must also dress up on this day. Women must wear Hanbok, the Korean traditional dress while men must wear a suit and tie. From a child to a grandmother, everyone must dress accordingly. Men must also get a haircut and the color of clothing worn relatively bright.

◆ A Visit to Mankyungdae Home

As an obligatory duty, Pyongyang residents visit the Mankyungdae, Kim Il Sung’s birthplace, while people living in the country go to the Kim Il Sung’s statues of their respective locations. You cannot avoid the mass crowd as everyone in Pyongyang participates in this event, even if you do pick a good day. But in case you are plummeted by the tide of people and do not make it to the queue on time, you may find yourself being scolded.

From kindergarten, all residents of Pyongyang must attend Mankyungdae and so everyone is well informed of the back routes and secret paths. First you must place flowers and pay respects to the tombs of Kim Bo Hyun and Lee Bo Ik (Kim Jong Il’s paternal great grandparents) and Kim Hyung Jik and Kang Ban Suk (tombstone of Kim Jong Il’s paternal grandparents). Next, you must visit the Mankyungdae Revolutionary History Museum and then go to the top of Mankyung where located in the back of the Kim Il Sung’s birthplace and then the course is over.

During the course you see where Kim Il Sung drafted his plans and studied, and a slippery slide in which Kim Il Sung played on. Normally this course takes about 2~3 hours and by the end of it, you are rather exhausted. Even the markets are closed on this day as everyone is expected to visit Mankyungdae. The integrated markets are no exception.

◆ Visit to Mt. Keumsoo Memorial Palace

Not anyone can enter Mt. Keumsoo Memorial Palace. Only a number of selected people can attend the palace and everyone is educated before he/she can enter. You must wear immaculate clothing and arrive at the entrance by 7AM.

Only 30 people from each group are allowed to enter the palace, yet 35 people are called. The remaining 5 people are reserves, just in case a person incurs a catastrophic accident and cannot attend the visit. Public transport does not even operate at 7AM in the morning and so in order to arrive at the palace by 7, you must travel on foot from your respective homes. This means the average person has to leave their home at 2~3 in the morning to get to the palace on time. After all this effort and trouble, you may be unfortunate and called a reserve. In the case, there is no catastrophic incident and the original 30 people from your group arrive immaculately, you have little choice but to turn back and go home.

Entrance to Mt. Keumsoo Memorial Palace begins at 8AM. Identification is checked and visitors scrutinized from head to toe. If you did not shave correctly that day, or you have dust on your shoes, even if you are wearing items made of gold including belts and buckles, you are denied entry.

◆ Additional events

Other events which take place in Chosun during this time include the Spring Creative Arts Festival, debates on Kim Il Sung’s studies, inspection, outdoor performances at the Kim Il Sung Square by university students, singing Songs of praise to the dear lead and distribution of gifts.

In the past, when Kim Il Sung was alive children received uniforms, school bags, note books and stationary. Today they are given 1kg of candy.

There is probably no other country on this earth which glorifies the birth of a dead person like Chosun. When I was little, my life dream was to meet Kim Il Sung just once. Nonetheless, that dream was a silly dream as it ended with a quick glimpse of Kim Il Sung’s dead body at Mt. Keumsoo Memorial Palace. At that moment, I fell into a lapse of surrealism. That corpse was no longer my great leader.

April 2006 was the last time I saw Kim Il Sung’s dead body. I made a pledge to myself that if I were to ever raise children, I would do it properly and was sincerely grateful to my parents for raising me the way they did.

It may be a little brutal to claim that the sins of Kim Il Sung raising his son inadequately has led to the fate of Chosun. There may even be many people who are against my thoughts. However, what is left are powers passed down from a father to his son used in a malicious way and that father being Kim Il Sung.

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