North Korea Com­mem­o­rates Birth of Its Founder


SEOUL (Dis­patches) - Thou­sands of North Korean devo­tees laid flow­ers be­fore stat­ues of the coun­try’s founder Kim Il Sung Sun­day on the an­niver­sary of his birth.

A con­stant stream of sol­diers in brown uni­forms, work unit per­son­nel in suits, school­child­ren and fam­i­lies made their way to Mansu hill in the cen­tre of Py­ongyang, where giant stat­ues of Kim and his son and suc­ces­sor look out over the cap­i­tal. “The great com­rades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il will al­ways be with us,” read a ban­ner made of green­ery. In turn each group ap­proached the bronze ed­i­fices, most peo­ple with sin­gle blooms, some car­ry­ing golden bas­kets of flow­ers -- mak­ing their of­fer­ings be­fore as­sem­bling in for­ma­tion.

“Let us bow be­fore the stat­ues,” in­toned an an­nouncer halfhid­den by hor­ti­cul­ture, prompt­ing deep bows from civil­ians and salutes from mil­i­tary de­tach­ments.

North Kore­ans are taught from an early age to re­vere their lead­ers, and por­traits of the two late rulers gaze down in ev­ery home, school and work­place in the coun­try. Cur­rent leader Kim Jong Un is the third of the dy­nasty to head the coun­try, whose cal­en­dar is packed with an­niver­saries re­lat­ing to his two fore­fa­thers and their careers.

The ac­com­pa­ny­ing rit­u­als both demon­strate and re­in­force loy­alty to the regime. April 15, known as the Day of the Sun, is by far the most im­por­tant and some­times marked with a mil­i­tary pa­rade, as it was last year.

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