As North Korea celebrates the “Day of the Sun,” the world watches closely for any information that can be gleaned about Pyongyang’s weapons program following a series of missile and nuclear tests. CNN’s Will Ripley reports from inside North Korea.
The Day of the Sun is an annual public holiday in North Korea on 15 April, the birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung, founder and former president of North Korea. It is the most important national holiday of the country.
Kim Il-sung’s birthday, which had been an official holiday since 1968, was renamed Day of the Sun in 1997, three years after his death. The name takes its significance from the name of the leader. Il-sung is Korean for “become the Sun”.
North Koreans commemorate the holiday by visiting locations that have a connection with the life of the leader, such as thousands of statues scattered across the country, or Mangyongdae, his birthplace in the capital Pyongyang. The most important observances take place in the capital, including visits to Kumsusan Palace of the Sun where Kim Il-sung’s body lies in rest, and Mansu Hill Grand Monument, which features a very high statue of the leader.
The state seeks to provide its citizens with more food and electricity than is normally available, but success is not always guaranteed. Children, in particular, receive candy and other gifts attributed to love shown by the leaders.
Festivities are not confined to the date. Commemorations occur since 16 February, which is the birthday of Kim Jong-il, during what is known as the Loyalty Festival. Celebrations in April around the Day of the Sun are called the Sun Festival. The day itself is followed by two days of rest, making it a three-day holiday.