Day of the Sun

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Day of the Sun
Korean name
太陽節 [1]
Revised Romanization Taeyangjeol [2]
McCune–Reischauer T'aeyang-jŏl [3]
Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebrations April 15, 2014 (14056865633).jpg
A flower exhibition of Kimilsungias on the Day of the Sun at the Kimilsungia-Kimjongilia Exhibition House
Also calledSun's Day [4]
Observed by North Korea
SignificanceBirth of Kim Il-sung (1912)
ObservancesVisits to statues of Kim Il-sung and his mausoleum, fireworks, performances, sports competitions, folk dances.
Date 15 April
First timeAfter being designated on 8 July 1997
Related to Day of the Shining Star (16 February), Loyalty Festival (between 16 February and 15 April), Sun Festival (throughout April), April Spring Friendship Art Festival

The Day of the Sun (Chosŏn'gŭl : 태양절; MR : T'aeyang-jŏl) is an annual public holiday in North Korea on 15 April, the birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung, founder and Eternal President of North Korea. [5] It is the most important national holiday in the country, [6] and is considered to be the North Korean equivalent of Christmas. [7] Kim's birthday, which had been an official holiday since 1968, was renamed Day of the Sun in 1997, three years after his death. The name takes its significance from his name; Il-sung is Korean for "become the Sun".

Hangul Native alphabet of the Korean language

The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul, has been used to write the Korean language since its creation in the 15th century by King Sejong the Great. It may also be written as Hangeul following the standard Romanization.

McCune–Reischauer Korean language romanization system

McCune–Reischauer romanization is one of the two most widely used Korean language romanization systems. A modified version of McCune–Reischauer was the official romanization system in South Korea until 2000, when it was replaced by the Revised Romanization of Korean system. A variant of McCune–Reischauer is still used as the official system in North Korea.

This is a list of public holidays in North Korea. See also the Korean calendar for a list of traditional holidays. As of 2017, the North Korean calendar has 71 official public holidays, including Sundays. In the past, North Koreans relied on rations provided by the state on public holidays for feasts. Recently, with marketization people are able to save up money and buy the goods they need.


North Koreans commemorate the holiday by visiting locations that have a connection with the leader's life, such as thousands of statues scattered across the country, or Mangyongdae, his birthplace in the capital Pyongyang. The most important observances take place in the capital, including visits to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where Kim Il-sung's body lies in rest, and the Mansudae Grand Monument, which features a very tall statue of the leader.

Mangyongdae human settlement

Mangyongdae (Chosŏn'gŭl: 만경대) is a neighbourhood in Mangyongdae-guyok, Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korean propaganda claims Mangyongdae as the birthplace of North Korean leader Kim Il-sung, although in his memoirs he wrote that he had been born in the nearby neighbourhood of Chilgol. Mangyongdae is, however, where his father, Kim Hyong-jik was from, and where Kim Il-sung spent his childhood. Mangyongdae has been designated as a historic site since 1947 and is listed as a Revolutionary Site. The original structures of the site have been replaced with replicas.

Pyongyang Directly governed city in Pyongan Province, North Korea

Pyongyang, P'yŏngyang or Pyeongyang, is the capital and largest city of North Korea. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River about 109 kilometres (68 mi) upstream from its mouth on the Yellow Sea. According to the 2008 population census, it has a population of 3,255,288. The city was split from the South Pyongan province in 1946. It is administered as a directly-administered city with equal status to provinces, the same as special cities in South Korea, including Seoul.

Kumsusan Palace of the Sun geographical object

Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, formerly the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, and sometimes referred to as the Kim Il-sung Mausoleum, is a building near the northeast corner of the city of Pyongyang that serves as the mausoleum for Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea, and for his son Kim Jong-il, both posthumously designated as eternal leaders of North Korea.

The state seeks to provide its citizens with more food and electricity than is normally available, but success is not always guaranteed. [2] Children, in particular, receive candy and other gifts attributed to love shown by the leaders. [8]

Festivities are not confined to the date. Commemorations occur from 16 February, which is the birthday of Kim Jong-il, during what is known as the Loyalty Festival. Celebrations in April around the Day of the Sun are called the Sun Festival. The day itself is followed by two days of rest, making it a three-day holiday.

Kim Jong-il General Secretary of the Workers Party of Korea

Kim Jong-il was the second leader of North Korea. He ruled from the death of his father Kim Il-sung, the first leader of North Korea, in 1994 until his own death in 2011. He was an unelected dictator and was often accused of human rights violations.


Birthplace of Kim Il-sung in Mangyongdae Kim Il-sung's birthplace.jpg
Birthplace of Kim Il-sung in Mangyongdae

Kim Il-sung was born on 15 April 1912 in the village of Mangyongdae, which is now a suburb of North Korea's capital Pyongyang. [9] He has been long identified with the Sun [7] and is frequently called "Sun of the nation". [10] He adopted his name Il-sung (Chosŏn'gŭl : 일성; Hancha : 日成), meaning "become the Sun" [11] before the early 1930s as one of his noms de guerre . [12]

Kim Il-sung President of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea

Kim Il-sung was the first leader of North Korea which he ruled from the country's establishment in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Premier from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to 1994. He was also the leader of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) from 1949 to 1994. Coming to power after the end of Japanese rule in 1945, he authorized the invasion of South Korea in 1950, triggering an intervention in defense of South Korea by the United Nations led by the United States. Following the military stalemate in the Korean War, a ceasefire was signed on 27 July 1953. He was the second longest-serving non-royal head of state/government in the 20th century, in office for more than 48 years.

North Korea Sovereign state in East Asia

North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is a country in East Asia constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, with Pyongyang the capital and the largest city in the country. The name Korea is derived from Goguryeo which was one of the great powers in East Asia during its time, ruling most of the Korean Peninsula, Manchuria, parts of the Russian Far East and Inner Mongolia, under Gwanggaeto the Great. To the north and northwest, the country is bordered by China and by Russia along the Amnok and Tumen rivers; it is bordered to the south by South Korea, with the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two. Nevertheless, North Korea, like its southern counterpart, claims to be the legitimate government of the entire peninsula and adjacent islands.

Sun Star at the centre of the Solar System

The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is a nearly perfect sphere of hot plasma, with internal convective motion that generates a magnetic field via a dynamo process. It is by far the most important source of energy for life on Earth. Its diameter is about 1.39 million kilometers, or 109 times that of Earth, and its mass is about 330,000 times that of Earth. It accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. Roughly three quarters of the Sun's mass consists of hydrogen (~73%); the rest is mostly helium (~25%), with much smaller quantities of heavier elements, including oxygen, carbon, neon, and iron.


Kim Il-sung's birthday had been designated as a provisional holiday in 1962. It became official 1968, the year that saw great expansion of his cult of personality in the aftermath of a domestic political crisis known as the Kapsan Faction Incident. [13] In 1974, the day was promoted the most important holiday of the country. [10] It was designated as "The Day of the Sun" on 8 July 1997, the third anniversary of the death of Kim Il-sung, [7] in a resolution by the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, the Central Military Commission, the National Defence Commission, [14] the Central People's Committee and the Administration Council of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. [15] On the same occasion, North Korea adopted the Juche calendar which begins on the year of Kim Il-sung's birth. The purpose of the Day of the Sun was to celebrate "the greatest festival for the Korean nation," and to initiate a holiday which would be of equal importance to North Koreans as Christmas is in many other places. [7]

Kapsan Faction Incident Failed attempt to weaken the Kim familys power in North Korea

The Kapsan Faction Incident was an unsuccessful an attempt to undermine the power of Kim Il-sung, the leader of North Korea, around the year 1967. The "Kapsan faction" was a group of veterans of the anti-Japanese struggle of the 1930s and 1940s that was initially close to Kim Il-sung. In the wake of the 2nd Conference of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in 1966, the faction sought to introduce economic reforms, challenge Kim Il-sung's cult of personality, and appoint its ringleader Pak Kum-chol as his successor.

Central Committee of the Workers Party of Korea leadership body of the Workers Party of Korea

The Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea is the highest party body between WPK national meetings. According to WPK rules, the Central Committee is elected by the party congress and the party conference can be conferred the right to renew its membership composition. In practice, the Central Committee has the ability to dismiss and appoint new members without consulting with the wider party at its own plenary sessions.

Central Military Commission of the Workers Party of Korea Political agency overseeing North Koreas armed forces

The Central Military Commission of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (CMC) is an organ of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) which is responsible for coordinating the Party organizations within the Korean People's Army (KPA). One of the CMC’s primary functions is to authorize defense and munitions spending and product orders, and to determine how natural resources and products from military-controlled production units are earmarked and distributed domestically and for sale abroad. According to the WPK Charter, the CMC directs WPK activities in the KPA and is chaired by the WPK Chairman. The CMC relies on a number of organizations to carry out its mandate, including the KPA General Political Department, the WPK Military Department, and the WPK Machine-Building Department. The CMC also uses the WPK Military Affairs Department to transmit guidance and indoctrination of North Korea's reserve military training units.

Every fifth and tenth anniversary is marked with more pronounced celebrations than usual. [10] 2012 marked the centenary of the birth of Kim Il-sung. On the Day of the Sun that year, current leader Kim Jong-un gave his first public speech. [16] Massive military parades are held on the Day of the Sun and the country's most advanced weapons are displayed. [17] In 2012 North Korea conducted a failed missile test [16] and the new KN-08 missile was introduced in a parade. [10]


Arirang Festival mass-games were often held on the Day of the Sun until 2013. MikeBattCelebration.jpg
Arirang Festival mass-games were often held on the Day of the Sun until 2013.
Women dress in Choson-ot (hanbok) for dancing folk dances on the Day of the Sun. Kim Il Sung Birthday Celebrations April 15, 2014 (14056844303).jpg
Women dress in Chosŏn-ot (hanbok) for dancing folk dances on the Day of the Sun.

Preparations take more than a month. Through April there are exhibitions, fireworks, song and dance events, athletics competitions, Juche idea seminars and visits to places connected with Kim Il-sung's life, [3] including his birthplace in Mangyongdae. [4] Some of these events take several days. Foreign art groups and dignitaries are invited to visit North Korea during this time around the day itself known as Sun Festival. [3] The annual Kimilsungia Festival [18] (held since 1998 [19] ) and the April Spring Friendship Art Festival (since 1982) [20] are also held at around the time of the Day of the Sun. The latter typically features foreign performers from some 20 countries whose televised performances are an anticipated and well-liked rare glimpse of foreign culture for North Koreans. [21] It also includes the Pyongyang Marathon. [22]

As early as midnight on the morning of Day of the Sun, [6] [23] people lay commemorative wreaths and floral baskets at thousands of statues of Kim Il-sung around the country. [5] [18] The demand for flowers is huge. The market — mostly operating informally  – is estimated to be worth 600,000–1,200,000 dollars just for the Day of the Sun. [ citation needed ] Artificial flowers are favored for their low cost. [24] In the evening, youth dress in hanbok to participate in folk dances. [18] [23]

The main observances take place in the capital city of Pyongyang. Flowers are laid in front of Kim Il-sung's statue on Mansu Hill. [5] People pay respects at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun where his body lies in state. [5] In particular, leader Kim Jong-un has paid his respects at the palace every year. [25] Pyongyang also often hosts the Arirang Festival mass-games to coincide with the celebration of the Day of the Sun. [5] There has been an evening fireworks display in Pyongyang since 2009 and its design has been attributed to Kim Jong-un. [26]

The state serves special foods such as meat and liquor [18] as well as necessities to the people on the Day of the Sun to signal that all well-being is thanks to the care of the leader. [3] The state tries to maintain a stable supply of electricity for the day to allow people to watch television, while theaters show special movies. [18] The food situation varies. [2] According to North Korean defector Kim Hyun-hwa: "The Sun Festival is one of the few occasions during which everyone can eat to their heart's content. Even those who go hungry on a regular basis usually manage to obtain three meals on this day. This is because North Korea marks it as the biggest holiday for the Korean people." [23] However, in 2015 the state reportedly failed to distribute rations and did not deliver middle-school uniforms that schoolchildren were expecting to receive. [14]

Children under the age of 12 receive bags of one kilogram (2.2 lb) of candy and cookies at ceremonies at school. Upon receiving this gift, they have to bow in front of portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il in the classroom and say: "Thank you, the Great Leader Grandfather! And, thank you Father!" Schoolchildren also prepare performances well in advance. On the 11th through 12th their teachers choose the best ones for the Day of the Sun. [8] The Day of the Sun is one of the few occasions on which the Korean Children's Union admits new members. [16]

Government and business offices, banks, and retail close for the Day of the Sun. [27] It is also a common holiday for weddings. [28] The Day of the Sun is followed by two days of rest, making it a three-day holiday. [6] The day following the Day of the Sun typically features political meetings in which the Ten Principles of the ideological system are sworn allegiance for. [18]

Loyalty Festival

A similar holiday exists for 16 February, the birthday of former leader Kim Jong-il, known as the Day of the Shining Star. [2] The two-month period between the Day of the Shining Star and the Day of the Sun is known as the Loyalty Festival Period and festivities occur throughout. [4]

See also

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