North Korea Prepares for Mass Celebrations of Kim Il Sung Anniversary

Posted April 14th, 2012 at 6:05 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Pyongyang's huge football stadium Saturday in a show of support for North Korea's ruling dynasty, a day after a failed rocket launch that has opened the Communist nation to worldwide criticism.

The audience, including members of North Korea's 1.2 million strong military, women in colorful gowns and men in dark suits, sat in the packed Kim Il Sung stadium to hear praise for the family that has ruled the nation since its founding in 1948.

North Korea's capital is packed with people practicing for mass celebrations of the 100th birth anniversary of the communist country's founder Kim Il Sung.

Ahead of the main event Sunday, Kim Jong Un, the grandson of Kim Il Sung and the supreme commander of the Korean People's Army ordered promotions for about 70 senior military officers. Kim himself was elected first chairman of the National Defense Commission Friday, which makes him North Korea's supreme leader. Lawmakers also approved setting aside close to 16 percent of the budget for defense, indicating that the army will continue to play a strong role in North Korea under its new young leader. Kim Jong Un took over in December after his father Kim Jong Il died.

North Korean leaders planned to launch what they called an observation satellite into orbit to coincide with Kim il Sung anniversary celebrations. But the launch, largely considered to be a covert ballistic missile test and condemned by the international community, failed.

Some political analysts say the embarrassment will spur the isolated regime to compensate for the failure by carrying out another nuclear test. Pyongyang has earned tough international sanctions after its first nuclear test in 2006 and another one three years later.

Kim Il Sung's birthday, April 15, 1912, is considered North Korea's most important holiday.