North Korean authorities reportedly hosted dinner parties for retired military officials and their spouses on Apr. 25, the date formerly celebrated as “Military Foundation Day.”
The event took place after the authorities supplied some retired military officials with one kilogram of pork per person in recognition of Kim Il Sung’s birthday on Apr. 15. These “gifts” appear to show that the authorities are increasingly interested in winning the favor of retired KPA personnel.
“After the Central Committee sent down instructions, the authorities held dinner parties for the retired veterans in every major city during the public holiday of Apr. 25,” a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Apr. 26. “The events in Chongjin took place at ‘Chungamgak,’ while the festivities in Hoeryong took place at ‘Hoeryonggwan.’ Both parties started at noon.”
Another source spotted similar events taking place in Yangang Province. He told Daily NK that “the retired military officials and their spouses received invitations to [dine at] ‘Aprokgak’ in Hyesan on Apr. 25” and that “the tables were covered in all kinds of food and drinks. There was pork, eggs, bean sprouts, kimchi, blood sausage with ‘plow horse’ potato starch noodles, Hamhung cold noodles, rice cakes, and fruit, and also alcohol and beer.”
The authorities typically send retired military officials invitations to events like these during quinquennial anniversary years celebrating occasions such as 25, 40, or 60 years of the army’s founding. However, since Apr. 25, 2021 marks only the 89th year since the 1932 founding of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army (the predecessor to the modern Korean People’s Army), the authorities’ decision to hold the events is unusual. The source said that it is also uncommon for the authorities to invite the retired military officials’ spouses to attend the events.
The events could be a strategy to win the loyalty of retired military officers, some of whom are “true believers” who still hold Kim Il Sung’s “partisan struggle ideology” in their hearts.
“These dinner parties were the authorities’ way of attempting to placate retired military officials who devoted themselves to the nation when the nation failed to protect their honor,” the source said.
“Everyone is happy about the [authorities’] recent increase in interest towards retired military officials,” the source continued. “There are rumors that the authorities will hold more events to show support for retired military officials during national and public holidays in the future, so there is excitement in the air.”
However, it appears that the authorities covered the costs of the expensive meals by collecting funds from inminban, or “people’s units.” The source clarified that participants only had to donate a “paltry sum” of KPW 1,000. Still, some criticized the authorities for collecting money for banquets from people who are barely scraping by in current economic conditions. They say that the dinner parties serve as evidence that the authorities are simply trying to save face by any means necessary.
In May of last year, the Supreme People’s Assembly passed a decree to create a new public holiday. In the decree, the authorities denoted Apr. 25 as the date that Kim Il Sung organized the anti-Japanese guerilla army, declaring it a national holiday.
From 1978, when Kim Jong Il was still in power, until the sixth year of Kim Jong Un’s rule in 2017, North Korea celebrated Apr. 25 as the founding date of the Korean People’s Army. In 2018, North Korean authorities changed the holiday’s date to Feb. 8 because the modern Korean People’s Army was founded on Feb. 8, 1948.
*Translated by S & J