The 100th Birthday of President Kim Il Sung is up until now one of the biggest events both for tourists and locals alike that has ever happened in North Korea.
The background to the 100th birthday of President Kim Il Sung
President Kim Il Sung was the founding father of North Korea and as of now its Eternal President. Following his death on July 8th 1994, the country entered into 2 years of official mourning. It is at that time that Kim Jong Il became the paramount leader of the country.
In 1997, they adopted the Juche Calendar with the starting date being the birth of President Kim Il Sung.
Despite the rise of General Kim Jong Il, his birthday still remains second in importance to the birthday of President Kim Il Sung, particularly considering it also marked another “new year” in the country.
2012 – The BIG year
For the years building up to 2012, there was also lots of media coverage about how things would “change” in 2012 and how it would be a huge leap forward for the country. I remember asking a Korean colleague about this. He explained to me that Rome was not built in a day and that the country would start building to a prosperous country from this date.
The death of General Kim Jong Il.
April 15th 2012 was supposed to be the biggest celebration of them all, but then on December 17th 2011 General Kim Jong Il died. This was obviously a huge devastation to the country and had they insisted on years of mourning no tourists would have been allowed to enter the country.
April 15th 2012 – Day of the Sun
In the end the birthday of Kim Il-Sung not only went ahead, but turned out to be a huge event. There were literally so many thousands of hotel guests that many people ended up staying far as Anju County, or elsewhere. Young Pioneer Tours personally brought in a few hundred people across multiple groups to what was to be a fairly epic event.
Many of the events echoed other birthdays of the President, such as drinking, dancing and eating on Moran Hill, but with the added bonus of a bit of a military parade as well as a seriously well done firework display.
By this point the Ryugyong Hotel had windows on it and there was genuine talk of it opening in 2012, an event that sadly never materialized.
Looking back on the 100th birthday of President Kim Il Sung, I am extremely proud to say that I was a part of it and how amazing it will be to take part in the celebrations for 2022, the 110th Birthday of President Kim Il Sung.
Who knows, coronavirus might have passed by then?