Since April 15, 1974, Kim Il Sung’s birthday has become the biggest national holiday in North Korea. This year marks Kim’s 97th birthday, and lavished national events have been held, although he died 15 years ago.
The 26th Annual April Spring Friendship Art Festival was held on the 10th at the Pyongyang Grand Theater. On the 13th, the 11th Annual Kimilsungia Exhibition was held in the Kimilsungia and Kimjongilia exhibition halls in Pyongyang.
On the 14th, ideology lectures were held in organizations and companies, entitled, “Comrade Kim Il Sung is in existence with us forever,” and after that performances are played.”
In celebration of Kim Il Sung’s birthday, all departments and companies begin preparing songs and dance, musical performances, poetry recitations, and other performances a month before the festivities at which they perform before their co-workers, Party cadres, and others.
Students of all levels, from elementary to high school, prepare several performances in each class under the instruction of the Socialist Workers and Youth Union and the Chosun (North Korea) Children’s Union, then teachers select the best performance from each class during rehearsals on the 11th and 12th. Ultimately, the students perform on the 14th in front of all the students and teachers.
The content of all songs, dances and any other form of musical performance are bound to a fixed format. They must emphasize the role and importance of Kim Il Sung, the sun of the nation, not other themes such as love or friendship.
On Kim Il Sung’s birthday, children under 12 years of age are provided with one kilogram of cookies and candies just as they get on the Kim Jong Il’s birthday. Children receive gifts at ceremonies held in all schools and kindergartens.
When a teacher calls a student’s name, the child steps up to portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, takes a gift, says loudly, “Thank you, the Great Leader Grandfather! And, thank you Father!” and then bows.
Even though the quality and taste of the cookies are very poor, the children, gaunt from malnutrition and chronic food shortages, are happy to bow to the portraits and to receive a pack of cookies on the Sun’s Day.
Even though it is the biggest national holiday, people generally spent their time quietly.
In the early morning of the day, the 15th, citizens visit the status of Kim Il Sung and ceremonially bow to it in silence and offer flowers. After that they allowed to rest for two days.
They set better dinner tables than normal days and play traditional games with neighbors.
A source from North Korea described the atmosphere of the holiday, “During 1980s, when there were regular provisions and special rations like meat and alcohol were also provided, so it was a real holiday. But now, there is nothing different from just ordinary working days but taking a rest.”
“While we earn and live on day by day without provisions, exhibitions and performances are futile for us. I don’t know how doing and spending money just for the deceased is beneficial for us,” the source complained.