N. Korea to mark late founder’s birthday with nighttime performances, fireworks

SEOUL-- North Korea is set to celebrate the 110th birth anniversary of its late founder Kim Il-sung Friday night with large-scale performances and fireworks at its capital, according to state media.

The country is scheduled to open a youth ball at the Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang at 7 p.m. and then hold a musical performance in commemoration of the anniversary, called the Day of the Sun in the North, the state-run Korean Central Broadcasting Station reported.

After the performance, fireworks will be set off over the banks of the Taedong River centered on the Tower of the Juche Idea in the capital, it added, with other similar events being staged across the nation.

As the North usually marks every fifth and tenth political anniversaries with major celebrations, Kim Jong-un, the North's leader and grandson of the late founder, may attend Friday night's event in a move to rally internal unity.

Kim appeared at military parades that marked the 100th and 105th birth anniversaries of his late grandfather in 2012 and 2017, respectively.

South Korea's military and intelligence authorities do not predict a military parade for this year's anniversary, but a government source said the North will likely hold a mass rally in the evening.

Cha Duck-chul, the acting spokesperson for Seoul's unification ministry, told reporters in a regular briefing that the government is closely watching for moves related to preparations for a military parade.

"(The North) has yet to mention matters related to the opening of a military parade," he said, adding that the ministry is also considering the possibility of such a parade taking place in time for the founding anniversary of the North Korean People's Revolutionary Army on April 25.

Meanwhile, Pyongyang has revved up a festive mood for the late founder's birthday, kicking off a light festival Thursday.

Various light sculptures of national symbols, including the country's highest peak Mount Paektu, were installed at Kim Il-sung Square for the festival that will run until Sunday, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

The North also held a music concert and a celebratory ball in the capital the previous day to mark the landmark anniversary, and issued commemorative stamps of its late leader, it said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency