According to DPRK historical records, the Eternal President Kim Il Sung was born on April 15th 1912 in the village of Mangyongdae on the outskirts of Pyongyang. I was told this is his original home which has been preserved till this day and is now a sacred site to the local Koreans.
Kim Il Sung’s birthday was designated an official holiday in 1967. However this date was later named “DAY OF THE SUN” on the 3rd anniversary of his death in 1997. The “Sun” refers to President Kim Il Sung as the eternal “Sun of Korea”.
Celebrated every year on the 15th April, the local Koreans spend the holiday visiting major monuments and sacred sites within their towns and provinces. For those living in the capital city of Pyongyang, these sites would include the Mangyongdae Native Home, the Mansudae Grand Monument and the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
Throughout the day, there are mass mass dances in the streets and many local ladies wear traditional Korean dresses. Families also gather in large groups at the parks or beaches.
Events such as the April Spring Friendship Art Festival, Pyongyang Marathon and Kimilsungia flower exhibition coincide with the holiday season. The Day of the Sun therefore attracts the highest number of tourists every year. Trains and flights to Pyongyang are always maxed out during this season.
Outside of the DPRK, Juche ideology followers conduct their own seminars during the month of April. I was recently invited to sit in and observe a Zoom meeting entitled “International webinar on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism on the occasion of the 109th birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung” which was conducted in cooperation with the Korean Association of Social Scientists (Pyongyang). There were a total of 162 participants.
The zoom meeting consisted of international participants who took turns to read reports of Kim Jong Un’s latest exploits and to extol the achievements of the DPRK such as the latest building projects and weapons development.
International supporters of Kim Il Sung, political groups and business people have presented him with hundreds of gifts that are now stored in the International Friendship Exhibition. It was common for him to receive such gifts during his birthday.
The Day of the Sun culminates with thousands of locals gathering at the Kim Il Sung Square to watch the evening fireworks display as it marks the climax of the holiday season.
The Day of the Sun is the most important holiday in the North Korean calendar so tourists are advised to book your visits at least 2 months in advance to be guaranteed of a flight into Pyongyang.
Photos of KIM IL SUNG from the DPRK historical archives. (1957 – 1987)
The following photos of Kim Il Sung and the image captions were provided from Pyongyang and are reproduced with their express permission.