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NORTH KOREA NEWS LETTER NO. 245 (January 17, 2013)
*** TOPIC OF THE WEEK (Part 1)

North Korea Creating a Festive Mood for Kim Jong-il's 71st Birthday

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- With the anniversary of its deceased leader's birth approaching, North Korea is creating a festive mood while preparing a number of events to celebrate Kim Jong-il's 71st birthday on Feb. 16.

   The late Kim's birthday is considered a national holiday, as is the birthday of the North Korean founder, Kim Il-sung, whose birthday is April 15.

   While North Korea's new leader Kim Jong-un heavily relies on the legacies of his predecessors, North Korea has already begun in earnest the task of building up the personality cult surrounding the deceased leader. Kim died of a heart attack on Dec. 17 in 2011.

   Sources said the Pyongyang regime is set to celebrate Kim Jong-il's birthday with cultural events, festivals, public gatherings and international forums.

   The North has designated Kim's Feb. 16 birthday as the greatest auspicious holiday of the nation, and named it the Day of the "Kwangmyongsong," or Day of the Shining Star.

   Since his death, the North Korean regime has been heaping laudatory remarks on the "great deeds and achievements" made by senior Kim as well as the young leader Kim Jong-un.

   With the senior Kim's birthday approaching, a variety of events are being planned, though their details have yet to be announced.

   The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Jan. 12 that a preparatory committee of the General Association of Koreans in China was formed on Jan. 9 to "celebrate the Day of the Shining Star."

   Choe Un-bok, chairperson of the association, was elected chairperson of the preparatory committee. The committee decided to organize diverse events such as a meeting, film show, a book and photo exhibition and an art performance on the occasion of the Day of the Shining Star.

   The North's glorification of the senior Kim appears necessary in order for his son and his chosen successor Kim Jong-un to consolidate power through rallying internal support.

   When Kim Jong-il died, he left the isolated country in dire economic straits, the result of missile and nuclear programs pursued at the expense of a malnourished population.

   But North Korea has not ceased its provocations and recently launched a rocket as a clear sign that the socialist state is following in the footsteps of Kim Jong-il's "songun," or military-first policy to develop missile and nuclear weapons, despite already heavy international sanctions on the impoverished nation.

   Highly boasting its successful rocket launch, the North awarded the "Order of Kim Jong-il" to the (North) Korean Committee of Space Technology (KCST) on Jan. 4.

   According to the North's KCNA report, the KCST was awarded for its successful launching of the Kwangmyongsong 3-2 satellite, "thus creditably carrying out the behest of leader Kim Jong-il, strikingly demonstrating the tremendous might of the great Mt. Paektu nation."
North Korea's personality cults surrounding the national founder Kim Il-sung and the late leader Kim Jong-il are akin to a state religion. The socialist country has carved messages in hundreds of rocks and in the sides of cliffs praising the dynasty. The Kims are the subject of a massive personality cult that pervades almost every aspect of North Korean society.

   While stepping up propaganda activities that praise Kim Jong-il's works, the Pyongyang regime has also vowed to uphold Kim's policies in what is seen as an attempt to justify the hereditary power transfer from Kim Il-sung to Kim Jong-il and then to Kim Jong-un.

   The North Korean media claim people around the world have awarded the late leader as many as 1,200 honorific titles, saying he is called the champion of justice, guardian of peace for mankind, great prophet and saint.

   Despite its economic difficulties, the impoverished country spares no money in celebrating holidays marking the birthdays of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il every year.

   One month after Kim Jong-il's death, on Jan. 17 last year, the North continued its reverence of the eternal leader by having its media praise his outstanding accomplishments during his lifetime, such as his military-first politics.

   In its report, the KCNA said that during that one-month period, the tears shed by all Koreans formed a veritable sea and their lamentations shook mountains and rivers.

   Again marking the one-month anniversary of Kim's death, the North said dozens of poems were produced in the country to commemorate the solemn demise of the late leader. The North Korean media also introduced a new song in praise of Kim Jong-il, named "Kim Jong-il is Immortal as (the) Sun."

   The North's state media emphasized Kim Jong-il's great achievements during his lifetime and his ardent desire to turn the socialist country into a strong and prosperous nation. North Korea had declared it would become a strong and prosperous nation last year to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung.

   Last year, North Korea held a number of events to celebrate Kim Jong-il's 70th birthday. In one example, the North's state media said people across North Korea participated in pilgrimages to Kim Jong-il's birthplace to celebrate his birthday and to pledge loyalty to his son and successor Kim Jong-un.

   The KCNA reported that thousands of working people from all walks of life, including school students and children, visited the former home of Kim Jong-il at a secret camp in Mt. Paektu every day. North Korean media often employ phrases such as "the bloodline of Mt. Paektu," Kim Jong-il's supposed birthplace, or inheritance, when lauding the country's leadership.

   According to the official news agency, visitors to Mt. Paektu reflected deeply on the revolutionary career of Kim Jong-il, who performed undying feats for the country and the people with his outstanding political caliber and leadership ability. In another program, the North held a flower festival in honor of its deceased leader. The 16th Kimjongilia Festival -- based on a hybrid flower named for Kim Jong-il -- took place in Pyongyang on the occasion of the Day of the Shining Star.

   Meanwhile, the North said the Order of Kim Jong-il was instituted in the country on the occasion of Kim's birthday. The Order of Kim Jong-il and the Order of Kim Il-sung are the highest awards in the country.

   The North also produced a new poster for the Day of the Shining Star, said to represent the firm faith and will of all service personnel and North Koreans to hold Kim Jong-il in high esteem forever.

   Meanwhile, North Korea has awarded the late leader Kim Jong-il its highest title as a generalissimo, praising him for turning the North into a nuclear power.

   The announcement that Kim had been posthumously appointed generalissimo came a day after a statue of the former strongman was unveiled in Pyongyang, showing him on horseback alongside his own father and national founder Kim Il-sung.

   The late Kim's new title of generalissimo is the same title that was bestowed upon his father Kim Il-sung in 1992.

   Moreover, North Korea has unveiled a massive carving 120 meters wide across on a natural rock face to mark Kim's birthday. The inscription, "Peerless Patriot General Kim Jong-il. February 16, Juche 101 (2012)" was carved on Mt. Sokda in the southwestern province of South Phyongan.

   North Korea commemorated the first anniversary of Kim Jong-il's death on Dec. 17, holding mass rallies, unveiling a renovated mausoleum for the deceased leader and holding various cultural events.

   North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his top brass attended a mass memorial rally on the eve of the anniversary for the senior Kim while the country was jubilant over its successful launch of a long-range rocket on Dec. 12.

   North Korea's state-run Korean Central Broadcasting Station broadcast a live commemoration ceremony held in the late morning in a Pyongyang stadium.

   During the 70-minute service, Kim Yong-nam, the president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, lauded the accomplishments of the late leader in his memorial address, according to the KCNA.

   On the day of the first anniversary, the North unveiled a renovated mausoleum for the ruling Kim family. The reopening ceremony for Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang was broadcast live by key television stations, including (North) Korean Central Broadcasting Station.

   Earlier last year, the North embarked on the renovation work at the Kim family mausoleum where the body of the country's founder Kim Il-sung was also laid to rest.

   Pyongyang has spent US$100 million to mummify former leader Kim Jong-il and exhibit his body in the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, a North Korea source based in Beijing said recently.

   More recently, North Korea has established an international award named after its late leader Kim Jong-il, the state media said on Dec. 24.

   The North's KCNA said the "Kim Jong-il international award" was created in light of his birthday and to commemorate his inauguration as Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army 21 years ago.

   The prize will be granted to political leaders, prestigious scholars and leading businessmen across the world who have contributed to world peace, social and cultural developments and have struggled for national sovereignty, the KCNA said.

   Defining the year 2012 as the "Year of Great Victory for DPRK (North Korea)," the KCNA said the year marked touching events that have taken place in the country.

   It said Kim Jong-il's statues were erected in humble reverence in different parts of the capital and local areas including Mansu Hill, Kim Il-sung Military University and the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces.

   "The Korean people worked heart and soul with Kim Jong-il's noble patriotism, bringing about a great leap forward and innovations in the building of a knowledge-based economic power, a highly civilized thriving socialist nation," it said. "The 100 percent homemade satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2 was successfully launched.
The world recognized the might of space science and technology of the DPRK for peaceful purposes and it proudly ranked itself among the 10 major space powers in the world."