North Korea marks founder’s birthday with calls for loyalty to current leader

SEOUL, April 15 (UPI) — North Korea marked the birthday of founding leader Kim Il Sung on Monday with calls for loyalty to his grandson and current leader Kim Jong Un.

In an editorial marking the late founder’s 107th birthday, the North’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper lauded the founder and urged the country to «depend completely» on the current leader and follow his leadership until the end.

Dubbed the Day of the Sun, Kim Il Sung’s birthday, April 15, is one of the biggest national holidays in North Korea. This year’s anniversary came as North Korea held a series of political events to solidify leader Kim Jong Un’s grip on power.

The current leader has been seeking to emulate his grandfather since taking office in late 2011.
On Monday, the North’s state TV began its programming earlier than on other national holidays and broadcast programs highlighting the achievements of the late founder and the legitimacy of the current Kim Jong Un regime.

On the eve of the anniversary, the North also held a national meeting to mark the anniversary, with a number of top officials attending it, including the country’s newly appointed No. 2 leader Choe Ryong Hae.

In a celebratory report, Choe lauded the late leader’s «rare wisdom, outstanding guidance and noble virtue» for leading the country’s «revolution and construction only to victory,» according to the Korean Central News Agency.

«It is the firm will of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the government of the Republic to build a powerful socialist nation by our own efforts and our own way taking the revolutionary line of independence, the revolutionary mode of self-reliance,» Choe was quoted as saying.

Choe also «called for making a dynamic struggle for the prosperity of Juche Korea and accomplishment of the cause of socialism, single-heartedly rallied around Kim Jong Un,» KCNA said.

Other state media outlets also published a series of messages sent from foreign organizations to celebrate Kim’s birthday in an apparent effort to praise the late founder as a world-class leader.

In the past, the North used to mark the anniversary with military parades to flex its military muscle, but the country has refrained from such provocative events since the negotiating process kicked in last year.

In 2016, the North test-fired what was presumed to be an intermediate-range ballistic missile, which was followed by a large-scale military parade the next year in time for the late founder’s birthday.

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