The Dear Leader sure looks like his special day went well!
SEOUL (AFP) — North Korea was awash with patriotic festivities on Saturday as the impoverished nation celebrated “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Il’s 66th birthday with rallies, gala events and flower shows, state media said.
Streets were festooned with banners and residents enjoyed special rations of sweets and shoes during the two-day holiday, as official reports trumpeted Kim’s achievements.
“Kim Jong-Il, Songun Commander with Unparalleled Courage and Grit,” read the headline on a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report monitored here.
“The pages of the history of Songun revolution of Korea led by Kim Jong-Il are filled with amazing events moving people with the thrill of a victor,” the story said.
Synchronised swimmers saluted Kim with a special performance, including numbers entitled “Our General is Best,” and “Veneration for General,” KCNA reported.
Other North Koreans showed their reverence by organising exhibitions of “kimjongilia,” the hybrid begonia named after the reclusive leader.
Meanwhile the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper called for unity under Kim as he strives to turn the destitute nation into an economic powerhouse by 2012, the 100th birthday of his father Kim Il-Sung.
“The resolution to protect the leader with all our might is the core of the spiritual power of our army and people and the greatest expression of their patriotism,” its editorial said.
“We must rally and unite under the commander… We must reinvigorate the revolutionary spirit thoroughly throughout the party, the army and the society,” it added.
Kim succeeded his late father in 1997 and has developed a powerful personality cult despite a collapsing economy and a serious famine in the mid-1990s that left hundreds of thousands dead.
The hardline communist regime, which tested a nuclear weapon in October 2006, also remains internationally isolated as six-nation disarmament efforts falter.
In a speech to government officials, military leaders and representatives of social groups on Friday, number two leader Kim Yong-Nam warned the US against any “hostile action.”
“We are closely following the double-dealing attitude of the US,” the head of North Korea’s parliament was quoted as saying by KCNA.
“We will not tolerate even a slight hostile action on the part of the US but decisively react to it with a stronger measure,” he said.
Analysts say Kim, known for his bouffant hairdo, has cemented his grip on power by maintaining close ties to the country’s 1.1 million-strong military, much of it massed on the heavily fortified border with South Korea.
Tales of his amazing feats are legion in North Korea, including a reported 11 holes in one in his first round of golf. Among his other achievements, Kim is also credited with composing operas and piloting fighter jets.
Cheong Seong-Chang, a senior researcher at South Korea’s private Sejong Institute think-tank, said Kim was grooming his eldest legitimate son to take over, extending the dynasty.
Kim Jong-Chul, 26, who is believed to have a good grasp of international affairs and be fluent in German and English, is likely to be anointed heir apparent to the communist dynasty when he turns 30 in 2011, he said.