Day of the Shining Star

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Day of the Shining Star
Korean name
Chosŏn'gŭl 광명성절
Hancha 光明星節
Revised Romanization Gwangmyungsungjeol[1]
McCune–Reischauer Kwangmyŏngsŏng-jŏl
Statue at Mansudae Art Studio.JPG
Equestrian statue with Kim Jong-il (right) and Kim Il-sung, revealed on the Day of the Shining Star
Observed by  North Korea
Liturgical Color blue
Significance Birth of Kim Jong-il (1941/1942)
Begins 16 February
Ends 17 February
Date 16 February
Next time 16 February 2019 (2019-02-16)
Frequency Annual
First time After being designated in 1982
Related to Generalissimo Day (14 February),[1] Loyalty Festival (between 16 February and 15 April), Day of the Sun (15 April),[2] Day of Songun (25 August)[1]

The Day of the Shining Star (Chosŏn'gŭl광명성절; MRKwangmyŏngsŏng-jŏl) is a public holiday in North Korea falling on 16 February, the birth anniversary of the country's second leader, Kim Jong-il. Along with the Day of the Sun, the birthday of his father Kim Il-sung, it is the most important public holiday in the country.[3]

Kim Jong-il was born in 1941 in the Soviet Union, although North Korean propaganda insists on the date 16 February 1942 and places the birth at the Mount Paektu area in Korea. His birthday became an official holiday in 1982 when he began his work in the Politburo of the Workers' Party of Korea. During his lifetime, he kept out of the public eye during his birthdays. In 2012, the year following his death, the holiday was renamed the Day of the Shining Star.

The most lavish observances take place in the capital Pyongyang and include mass gymnastics, music performances, fireworks displays, military demonstrations, and mass dancing parties. The North Korean people receive more food rations and electricity than usual on the Day of the Shining Star.

Background[edit]

According to North Korean propaganda, Kim Jong-il was born in a secret camp at Mount Paektu on 16 February 1942.

Kim Jong-il was born in February 1941 to Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-suk in Siberia in the Russian Federal Republic, Soviet Union where his father had been in exile because of his guerilla activities. North Korean propaganda, however, dates Kim Jong-il's birth to 16 February 1942 and locates it at the Mount Paektu area in Korea, the mythical place of origin of the Korean people, where Kim Il-sung supposedly ran a guerilla camp.[4] In reality, the guerillas were based in Manchuria at the time and Kim himself had been to the Soviet Far East before and after Kim Jong-il's birth.[5]

In North Korean propaganda, Kim Jong-il is often associated with the image of the star. He is most often referred to as the "bright star",[6] although the "shining star" (광명성) is also used.[7] According to legend, a bright star appeared on the sky the night he was born,[8] and guerilla fighters carved messages on trees proclaiming: "Three Heroes Shining in Korea with the Spirit of Mount Paekdu: Kim Il Sung, Kim Chŏng-suk, and Kwangmyŏngsŏng ('The Bright Star')" and "Oh! Korea! The Paekdu Star Was Born!"[9]

History[edit]

Kim's birthday had been provisionally celebrated from 1976 on, but it became a national holiday only in 1982,[5] two days after he became a member of the Politburo of the Workers' Party of Korea.[10] When he ascended to the leadership of the country, his birthday was marked as "The Spring of Humanity" on the North Korean calendar.[11] During his lifetime, though, Kim shunned away from public occasions during his birthdays.[12] The anniversary got its present name in 2012, the year following his death, when the Politburo announced that: "February 16, the greatest auspicious holiday of the nation when the great leader Comrade Kim Jong Il was born, will be instituted as the Day of the Shining Star".[13] An equestrian statue with Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung was revealed to commemorate the day.[14]

On 12 February 2013, North Korea conducted its third nuclear test a few days before the Day of the Shining Star in celebration of it.[15]

Celebration[edit]

Film director Vitaly Mansky at the Mansu Hill Grand Monument around the Day of the Shining Star

The holiday begins on 16 February and lasts for two days. Celebrations are observed throughout the country. The capital, Pyongyang, has observances such as mass gymnastics, music performances, fireworks displays, military demonstrations,[16] and mass dancing parties.[17] Boulevards are lined up with flags and banners. Millions of people visit the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun where both Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il lay in state.[18] Exhibitions of the orchid Kimjongilia take place. The orchid is named after Kim and has been cultivated to bloom around the Day of the Shining Star. Outside of Pyongyang, commemorations are not as lavish. The North Korean government often allocates more food and energy to the people on Day of the Shining Star than normally.[16] Children are given candy,[12] and it is one of the few occasions on which new members are admitted in the Korean Children's Union.[19] Vitaly Mansky's 2015 documentary film Under the Sun chronicles the run up to such a ceremony on the Day of the Shining Star.[20]

Government and business offices, banks, and retail close for the Day of the Shining Star.[18] Weddings are commonly held on the Day of the Shining Star.[21]

The two-month period between the Day of the Shining Star and the Day of the Sun is known as the Loyalty Festival Period and festivities occur throughout.[22] On the calendar, the Day of the Shining Star takes place after the Generalissimo Day (14 February, commemorating Kim Jong-il's accession to the rank of Taewonsu) and before the International Women's Day (8 March). The Day of the Shining Star is one of three days celebrating Kim Jong-il on the calendar, the other two being the Generalissimo Day and the Day of Songun (25 August, commemorating the beginning of Kim's Songun, or army-first, leadership).[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Cho Jong Ik (25 December 2013). "2014 Calendar Reveals Few Surprises". Daily NK. Archived from the original on 28 December 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2016. 
  2. ^ "Kim Jong Il to be enshrined as 'eternal leader'". Associated Press. 12 January 2012. Archived from the original on 4 May 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  3. ^ Barbra Kim (21 February 2012). "What Really Glimmers Behind the 'Day of the Shining Star'". cogitASIA. CSIS Asia Program. Archived from the original on 16 January 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  4. ^ "Profile: Kim Jong-il". BBC News. 16 January 2009. Archived from the original on 18 February 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  5. ^ a b Lim 2015, p. 26.
  6. ^ Lim 2015, p. 96.
  7. ^ Talmadge, Eric (15 February 2016). "North Korea displays rockets, begonias for leader's birthday". AP News Archive. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 16 January 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  8. ^ Ryall, Julian (8 January 2014). "Kim Jong-un at 30? Gifts for North Korea's dictator". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 17 April 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  9. ^ Lim 2015, p. 62.
  10. ^ Lee Sang Yong (28 December 2012). "No Change for January 8th 2013". Daily NK. Archived from the original on 16 January 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  11. ^ Seol Song Ah (7 December 2015). "Kim Jong Un's birthday still not a holiday". Daily NK. Archived from the original on 13 January 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  12. ^ a b "Party in Pyongyang: North Korea Celebrates Rocket Launch and Kim Jong-il's Birthday". VICE News. 16 February 2016. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  13. ^ "Special Report of Political Bureau of C.C., WPK". KCNA. 12 January 2012. Archived from the original on 9 October 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2017. 
  14. ^ Leese, Daniel (2014). "The Cult of Personality and Symbolic Politics". In Smith, S. A. The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 340. ISBN 978-0-19-166751-0. Archived from the original on 15 February 2018. 
  15. ^ Ralph, Elizabeth F. (18 February 2013). "Self-Appreciation Day". Foreign Policy. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  16. ^ a b "Birthday of Kim Jong-Il". Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary (Fourth ed.). Omnigraphics. 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2017 – via TheFreeDictionary.com. 
  17. ^ "Celebrating the Day of the Shining Star". Daily NK. 10 March 2014. Archived from the original on 16 January 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  18. ^ a b North Korea Society and Culture Complete Report. Petaluma, CA, USA: World Trade Press. 2010. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-60780-406-2. Retrieved 13 January 2017 – via ProQuest ebrary. 
  19. ^ Richardson, Christopher (13 June 2013). ""Be Prepared!" Reflections On The North Korean Children's Union". Sino-NK. Archived from the original on 4 February 2015. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  20. ^ Harvey, Dennis (19 June 2016). "Film Review: 'Under the Sun'". Variety. Archived from the original on 26 February 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2017. 
  21. ^ Toimela, Markku; Aalto, Kaj (2017). Salakahvilla Pohjois-Koreassa: Markku Toimelan jännittävä tie Pohjois-Korean luottomieheksi (in Finnish). Jyväskylä: Docendo. p. 40. ISBN 978-952-291-369-2. 
  22. ^ Baker, Donald L. (2008). Korean Spirituality. University of Hawaii Press. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-8248-3233-9. Archived from the original on 15 February 2018. 

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]