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North Korea celebrates Kim Jong Il's birthday

The week of what would have been King Jong Il’s 70th birthday was marked in North Korea with the unveiling of a bronze statue in Pyongyang today.

A statue built in honour of Kim Jong Il, depicting him and his father Kim Il Sung
A statue built in honour of Kim Jong Il, depicting him and his father Kim Il Sung
Image: David Guttenfelder/AP/Press Association Images

AS THE USA prepares to hold its first diplomatic talks with North Korea, the late Kim Jong Il’s 70th birthday is being celebrated in his home country.

The USA and North Korea will meet on 23 February to discuss the country’s willingness to return to talks on dismantling its nuclear weapons programme, the Wall St Journal reports.

As North Koreans prepare for what would have been the 70th birthday of late leader Kim Jong Il this week, the country’s propaganda machine has gone to great lengths to build up the man who led the nation for 17 years.

A monumental bronze statue of Kim Jong Il was unveiled today in Pyongyang as part of events marking his birthday.

The sculpture depicts him on horseback with his father. The day of his birth, which falls this Thursday, has been newly dubbed “Day of the Shining Star.”

The nation remains in a semiofficial state of mourning for the man often referred to as “our fatherly general” as North Koreans observe the traditional 100 days of grief that follow the death of a family member.

No big military parades are expected at Kim Il Sung Square, the city’s main plaza, but two birthday fixtures are slated to go ahead as planned: the annual exhibition of 30,000 of his namesake red “kimjongilia” begonias and an international figure skating competition.

The campaign to mythologise Kim Jong Il began on the day state media announced his death. According to the Korean Central News Agency:

  • Layers of ice at frozen Lake Chon at the base of Mount Paektu, said to be Kim’s birthplace, suddenly splintered apart
  • A fierce snowstorm blew over the mountain and it glowed for hours “as if a red flag was unfolded over the peak to remind one of Kim Jong Il’s life”
  • Manchurian crane flew around a statue of Kim Il Sung before sitting on a tree with its head drooped
  • Another bird mysteriously stiffened and died on a tree branch that stood near where Kim Jong Il had posed for a photo some years earlier

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See our slideshow for photographs of the celebrations:

North Korea celebrates Kim Jong Il's birthday
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  • North Korea Venerating Kim Jong Il

  • North Korea Venerating Kim

  • North Korea Venerating Kim Jong Il

  • North Korea Venerating Kim Jong Il

  • North Korea Venerating Kim Jong Il

  • North Korea Venerating Kim Jong Il

  • North Korea Venerating Kim

  • North Korea Venerating Kim Jong Il

  • North Korea Venerating Kim Jong Il

  • North Korea Venerating Kim Jong Il

  • North Korea Venerating Kim

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