North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (4th from L) visits the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to mark the birth anniversary of late state founder Kim Il-sung, in this photo released by the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling Workers' Party, on Friday. (Rodong Sinmun)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited a mausoleum of his late grandfather and national founder Kim Il-sung to mark his birth anniversary, state media reported Friday.
Kim and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun on Thursday on the occasion of the 109th birth anniversary, according to the Korean Central News Agency. The mausoleum is where the bodies of his late grandfather and father lie in state.
"Kim Jong-un, together with his wife, paid high tribute to the statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il and extended the best wishes of immortality at the halls where the President and the Chairman lie in state," the KCNA said.
The birth anniversary, referred to in the North as the Day of the Sun, is the country's biggest national holiday marked by large-scale cultural and sports events.
Since taking office in late 2011, Kim had paid tribute to the mausoleum every year to mark the anniversary, but he skipped a trip last year amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, prompting speculation about his health.
Accompanying Kim on Thursday's visit were his top aides, including Kim Yo-jong, his younger sister; Jo Yong-won, secretary for Organizational Affairs of the party's Central Committee; and Pak Jong-chon, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army, the KCNA said.
In a separate article, the KCNA said that Kim and his wife also watched a performance titled "Along the Party Forever" given by major art troupes in celebration of the birth anniversary.
"When the respected General Secretary Kim Jong-un came to the auditorium of the theater with his wife Ri Sol-Ju amid the playing of welcome music, all the participants raised enthusiastic cheers of 'hurrah!' in deep reverence for him," the KCNA said.
Observers said that North Korea's celebrations for this year's anniversary appear to be larger than last year, when the North canceled almost all major events as it struggled to fight the global coronavirus pandemic, though they are similar in scale as the previous few years.
A unification ministry official in Seoul earlier said that North Korea seems to be showing "confidence" in its handling of the pandemic as it is holding various celebrations for the anniversary this year. (Yonhap)