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Day of the Sun: Kim Il Sung’s Birthday

Introduction to Day of the Sun

Day of the Sun is an annual three-day national holiday celebrated in North Korea in recognition of Kim Il Sung’s Birthday. Kim Il Sung was the founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and is regarded as the eternal president of the DPRK. The holiday is the most important holiday of the year to North Koreans, and can be as significant as Spring Festival in China or Seollal in South Korea.

Kim Il Sung was born on April 15th 1912 and his birthday wasn’t an official holiday until 1968 on his 56th birthday, and the official title of Day of the Sun was announced on the death anniversary in 1997, three years after his death on the 8th July 1994. The title of the holiday is derived from his Korean name which translates into English as “become the sun”.

The birth of Kim Il Sung also represents the first day of the new Juche year, a unique calendar system used only in the DPRK.

How is Day of the Sun celebrated in North Korea

North Koreans observe Day of the Sun by visiting several locations throughout Pyongyang and elsewhere in North Korea that have a significant connection with Kim Il Sung’s life. These visits are usually done so with groups of families and friends, neighborhood communities, work groups or military platoons.  

The most significant locations to visit on Day of the Sun are Mangyongdae Native House in Pyongyang, where Kim Il Sung spent most of his younger years. As well as the Mansudae Grand Monument located near Kim Il Sung Square, where 20 meter bronze statues of Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il stand and gaze over Pyongyang city.

Other noticeable locations North Koreans visit to pay their respects on this day are revolutionary sites that include a smaller bronze statue of Kim Il Sung, the Kimilsungia flower exhibition, or central squares located in rural North Korean cities where speeches are held by the local officials of the area to the masses.

The April Pyongyang Marathon event is also held in Pyongyang on the Sunday before the Day of the Sun to uphold the birthday celebrations.

What happens on Day of the Sun

Numerous activities and events are held on Day of the Sun whether it’s formal for the government or informal for households. The majority of local families gather at their homes, usually hosted by the grandparents and enjoy home cooked meals with alcohol. Although what is recognized as an increasing trend are families heading out to nearby parks for picnics and outdoor BBQ followed by karaoke, dancing, games and more drinking. This also marks one of the first days of the year for the weather to warm up in the country.

Top officials such as Marshal Kim Jong Un and his close comrades visit Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to directly pay their respects to the embalmed body of Kim Il Sung where he is laid in state. These visits are usually conducted at midnight and aired on TV throughout the holiday.

Other official events such as mass dances are held at numerous landmarks across the country which involve mostly thousands university students or separate groups of elderly citizens.

Day of the Sun Anniversaries

On significant anniversaries of Kim Il Sung’s birthday much larger events are planned to celebrate the holiday including North Korean military parades, the Mass Games and fireworks over the Taedong River.

The largest celebration ever held in the history of the DPRK was Kim Il Sung’s 100th birthday back in 2012. It is highly anticipated that Kim Il Sung’s 110th birthday celebration taking place in 2022 will be the largest celebration held in North Korea of the past decade which will most definitely involve all of the above.

How to partake in Kim Il Sung Birthday

It is possible for our tourists to partake and spectate these celebrations on Day of the Sun. Join our Kim Il Sung Birthday tours and don’t miss out on the largest holiday of the year in North Korea.

It’s also worth noting a holiday for Kim Il Sung’s son and former leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Il has his birthday celebrated on February 16th and is known as Day of the Shining Star.

Contacts us to reserve your spot on tour to North Korea or for any other North Korean travel enquiry

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