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N. Korea marks late founder's birthday with celebrations, no signs of provocations yet

The art troupe of North Korea's central committee of the union of agricultural workers performs in Sampong Co-op Farm in Pyongwon County on Monday to commemorate the 109th anniversary of the birth of the late North Korea founder Kim Il-sung, in this photo provided by the Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency)
The art troupe of North Korea's central committee of the union of agricultural workers performs in Sampong Co-op Farm in Pyongwon County on Monday to commemorate the 109th anniversary of the birth of the late North Korea founder Kim Il-sung, in this photo provided by the Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency)
North Korea marked the birthday of late founder Kim Il-sung with performances and other celebratory events, according to state media Thursday, but no signs of provocations have been detected.

Thursday marks the 109th birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung, the late grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un. The anniversary, referred to in the North as the Day of the Sun, is the country's biggest national holiday and has often been marked with massive military parades and other provocative acts.

This year's celebrations appear to be larger than those of last year, when the North canceled almost all major events as it struggled to fight the global coronavirus pandemic, but similar in scale to previous years.

On Thursday night, the North was set to open a ballroom party for youths and celebrate the anniversary with firecrackers, the state-run Korean Central Broadcasting Station said.

The North on Tuesday also held a photo exhibition and a celebratory performance in Pyongyang, and put up posters across the city praising the late founder as the "eternal" leader.

The Rodong Sinmun, the North's main newspaper, ran several articles lauding the achievements of the late founder.

As of 9 a.m., state media have not yet reported whether leader Kim visited Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the body of his late grandfather lies in state. Observers say he might make the visit Thursday.

Kim has visited the Kumsusan palace on his late grandfather's birthday every year since he took power in 2012 but skipped paying tribute last year apparently due to concerns over the coronavirus.

No signs of military provocations have been detected yet amid concerns that the North could test the Joe Biden administration in time for the anniversary.

"Our military is closely watching related moves under close coordination of South Korea-US intelligence authorities and is maintaining a firm readiness posture," the Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman Col. Kim Jun-rak said during a regular press briefing. "There are no activities to further elaborate as of now." (Yonhap)
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