SEOUL, April 13 (Yonhap) — North Korea appears to be showing “confidence” in handling the global coronavirus pandemic as it is holding various celebrations to mark this week’s birth anniversary of its late state founder, a unification ministry official said Tuesday.
North Korea’s state media outlets have reported various cultural and sports events to mark the 109th birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un, on Thursday. This comes in contrast with last year when major celebrations were cancelled amid concerns over the coronavirus.
“The North appears to be showing confidence in keeping situations linked to the coronavirus under control enough to hold large-sale events when they are considered necessary for the country,” the ministry official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
The birth anniversary, referred to in the North as the Day of the Sun, is the country’s biggest national holiday. The North tends to mark every fifth and 10th anniversary with large-scale events, including military parades.
North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free but it has imposed strict border controls and other antivirus measures since early last year.
It, however, recently convened a party congress and other major meetings where participants were seen not wearing masks in what was presumed to be a display of confidence in warding off an outbreak.
Last year, the North cancelled almost all major celebrations for the birth anniversary amid COVID-19 concerns. In a rare move, leader Kim also skipped paying tribute in time for the anniversary at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the body of his grandfather lies in state.