N.Korea in festive mood ahead of late leader’s birth anniversary

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North Korea is revving up a festive mood ahead of late leader Kim Jong-il’s 80th birth anniversary next week, opening a series of commemorative events, according to Pyongyang’s state media on Thursday.

Kim Jong-il, father of current leader Kim Jong-un, led the reclusive regime from 1994 until his death in 2011, reports Yonhap News Agency.

His birth anniversary, which falls on February 16, is marked as a major national holiday in the North.

On Wednesday, the North held a national awards ceremony in Pyongyang to commemorate the late leader, Pyongyang’d official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

It awarded 8,732 officials, workers and soldiers of merit for carrying out policies of the ruling Workers’ Party, including four with the Order of Kim Jong-il, according to the North’s main newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

Other events marking the late leader’s birthday were held in the capital the same day, including a symposium to discuss his achievements, a cooking contest and an exhibition of visual artworks on the late leader, the KCNA added.

Eyes are on whether Pyongyang will hold a massive public event for the anniversary, as it usually marks every fifth and 10th anniversary with larger celebrations.

Keen attention is being paid to whether it will stage another military parade.

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