A Daily NK source recently reported that North Korea has begun preparations for its largest military parade ever to mark the 110th birthday of former leader Kim Il Sung on Apr. 15, 2022.

In North Korea, Kim’s birthday is a holiday called the “Day of the Sun.”

The source, who is inside North Korea’s military, told Daily NK yesterday that the General Staff Department of the Korean People’s Army issued an order on Jun. 18 to the “operational training departments of each service and every military academy” laying out plans for recruiting and training soldiers to participate in a “commemorative military parade to mark the 110th Day of the Sun.”

The General Staff Department said it plans to have around 38,000 personnel participate in the parade. This is 15,000 more than the roughly 23,000 military personnel who took part in the parade to mark last year’s 75th Party Foundation Day (Oct. 10), the country’s largest military parade to date.

As to why so many personnel will participate in the parade, the General Staff Department said it was to “hold up high the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il Sung — the founder of socialist Korea and the Sun of the Nation — in the hearts of the entire nation, and to commemorate his birthday in grand style, wishing him eternal life.” 

The General Staff Department also stressed that personnel must exercise “the greatest loyalty” during the training period for the parade, calling next year’s Day of the Sun “yet another historic memorial day when we can show the entire world the accomplishments of the Supreme Leader,” who self-reliantly “built a strong and prosperous motherland.”

Soldiers marching during the Party Foundation Day military parade on Oct. 10, 2020. / Image: KCNA

That is to say, the General Staff Department’s order revealed that North Korean authorities intend to highlight the justifications for strengthening the country’s “self-reliant” military strength, something Kim Il Sung promoted, as well as use the parade as an opportunity to bolster internal unity.

Based on the order, all branches of the military, military commands, and military academies have begun selecting personnel to take part in training for the parade. Those selected for the training will likely be soldiers with experience in past military parades. 

From Jul. 1, soldiers selected for the training will gather at corps and headquarter command posts to begin training. The General Staff Department warned that the preparations for the military parade must not impact the military’s summer exercises (stretching from Jul. 1 to Sept. 30).

What this means is that soldiers participating in the training must still attend “political lessons” in the morning. The emphasis on participation in these lessons follows the North Korean principle that “political ideological training continues uninterrupted, regardless of the circumstances.”

The problem, however, is that many of the soldiers with parade experience were reportedly discharged early in the spring. As a result, soldiers in some units are complaining that the authorities continue to take soldiers away for parade training during a time when “manpower is already short for combat and administrative duties.”

North Korea held a large-scale military parade last year for the 75th Party Foundation Day and during the Eighth Party Congress earlier this year despite emergency measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.
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Jeong Tae Joo is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. He focuses on North Korean military matters. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.