April 16 (UPI) — North Korea has marked the 110th birthday of its founder, Kim Il Sung, with parades and mass celebrations as his grandson, current leader Kim Jong Un, looked on.
State-run Korean Central Television on Saturday aired footage of a Friday rally and parade of civilians in a square in central Pyongyang with Kim Jong Un in attendance, Japanese national broadcaster NHK reported.
North Korean politburo member Ri II Hwan said in a rally address that the current leader inherited the economic and national defense building achievements of his grandfather and has made North Korea the most powerful country worldwide.
Thousands of civilians attended the parade that followed, holding up signs with slogans like “single-hearted unity,” and “self-reliant recovery.”
Civilians also celebrated with fireworks set off over the banks of the Taedong River and dance performances in the capital to mark the Day of the Sun holiday, footage from Korean Central Television showed.
The celebrations occurred amid concern North Korea would conduct nuclear tests around the anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth.
The United States, Japan, and South Korea strengthened surveillance with fears that North Korea may launch an intercontinental ballistic missile or carry out its seventh nuclear test on the anniversary, Kyodo News reported.
North Korea may take provocative actions around Monday, when the United States and South Korea are set to start a joint military drill, foreign affairs experts said.
North Korea will also celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army, the predecessor of the present Korean People’s Army, on April 25.
Pyongyang may stage a military parade for that occasion, South Korea’s Unification Ministry has said, but that has not yet been confirmed.
Kim Yo Jong, sister of Kim Jong Un, warned earlier this month that North Korea’s nuclear combat forces would respond with “total destruction and ruin” if provoked.