A number of additions and changes are
present in North Korea’s official 2015 calendar, Daily NK has confirmed after
obtaining a copy. Most notably of these additions is that of a new public
holiday to be celebrated on June 19th, marking the date in 1964 when Kim Jong
Il graduated from Kim Il Sung University and began working as part of the
Party’s organizational leadership. Various events related to the commemorative
day take place every year on this date in North Korea, but this is the first
time it has been recognized as a national holiday.
The explanation offered in the calendar for
the new holiday reads, “The great leader Comrade Kim Jong Il started work at
the Central Committee of the Worker’s Party of Korea,” interpreted as a move to
formalize the commencement of Kim Jong Il’s “revolutionary history.” Touting Kim
Jong Il’s achievements and instilling residents with recognition of Kim Jong
Eun’s place within the legitimizing Baekdu bloodline [i.e. a member of the Kim family] are other theories behind the holiday’s inclusion.
Traditionally, Korean culture observes a
three-year mourning period, for which Kim Jong Il is is drawing to a close, leading most to assume that full-fledged entry into the Kim Jong Eun era
would see the addition of the young leader’s birthday [January 8th] to the nation’s
ideological diary, but the 2015 schedule remains absent of any such incorporation.
Dates marking Kim Jong Eun’s appointment to first Chairman of the National Defense Commission [April 14th], and his promotion to first secretary of the Workers’ Party [April 11th], were also expected additions to the state’s official holiday observances, but
no such inclusions appear, though explanations of both the milestones appear in the margins of the upcoming year’s calendar.
Some speculate that by decreeing his date
of birth as a holiday would place additional pressure on the leader, who lacks
the long list of accomplishments to bolster such a venerable image.
“This is for him to stress his humility
while attaching more importance to the previous generations [of the Kim dynasty],”
a senior defector said to the Daily NK on this decision. “Designating the
Marshal’s [Kim Jong Eun] birthday as an official holiday will come after its
propagandized as stemming from the people’s unvarying support for it,” he asserted.
Other holidays, unrelated to the Kim
regime, also appear on the calendar’s pages: Solar New Year’s Day on January 1st and Lunar New Year’s
Day on February 19th, as well as the traditional harvest festival, Chuseok,
which falls on September 27th next year.
March 5th, expressed by the state as “the 15th of the
first month by the lunar calendar [Korean folk festival],” was also added as a public holiday for the
upcoming year. April 5th, “Chungmyung Day” falls on a Sunday, and as such, its designation as an official public holiday cannot be confirmed for 2015.
Another notable change is the addition of
“Mother’s Day” on November 16th as a national holiday for the first time in
North Korean history. In May 2012, the Presidium of the Supreme People’s
Assembly declared this day “Mother’s Day,” commemorating the First National
Meeting of Mothers held on November 16th, 1961, during which Kim Il Sung’s
essay “The Duty of Mothers in the Education of Children” was released; however, until now, it was never observed as a public holiday.
Predictably, North Korea’s 2015 public holidays include other longstanding examples such as Party
Foundation Day [October 10th], and the birthdays of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong
Il, April 15th and February 16th, respectively.
▲ 2015 public and traditional holidays in
January: Solar New Year’s Day (1.1)
February: Birth date of Kim Jong Il
[“Gwangmyungsung Day”/Day of the Shining Star) (2.16); Lunar New Year’s Day
March: “The 15th of the first month
by the lunar calendar” [Cheongwoldaeboreum] (3.5)
April: Birth date of Kim Il Sung
(“Taeyang Day”/Day of the Sun) (4.15); Chosun People’s Army
Foundation Day (4.25)
May: Labor Day (5.1)
June: Chosun Children’s Union Foundation
Day (6.6); “The great leader Comrade Kim Jong Il started work at the Central
Committee of the Worker’s Party of Korea” (6.19)
July: “Day of Victory in the
Fatherland Liberation War” (7.27)
August: Liberation Day (8.15), Day of
September: National Day (9.9); Chuseok
October: Party Foundation Day (10.10)
November: Mother’s Day (11.16)
December: Constitution Day (12.27)*
*This holiday falls on a Sunday, and therefore, its status as an official
public holiday cannot be confirmed.