Pyongyang discreetly celebrates ex-leader Kim Jong-il's birth anniversary

Figure skaters perform during the opening ceremony of a figure skating festival marking the anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il at an ice rink in Pyongyang on February 14, 2018. Pic/ AFP

North Korea on Friday discreetly commemorated the 76th birth anniversary of former leader Kim Jong-il.

As per tradition, the incumbent leader Kim Jong-un paid a visit to the Kumsusan Sun Palace here at midnight and solemnly placed a wreath in front of the embalmed bodies of his father and grandfather, Kim Il-sung, founder of North Korea, according to the state agency KCNA.

Kim Jong-un was accompanied by high-ranking Workers Party officials, but not military officers, Efe news quoted KCNA as saying.

The South Korean Unification Ministry pointed out that this year the North has opted for a modest celebration of this important event, in contrast with the previous year.

In 2017, the so-called "Kwangmyongsongjol" (the Day of the Shining Star was celebrated with a flower festival "Kimjongilia" in Pyongyang, featuring an enormous mass dance and a fireworks display.

This year, the commemoration took place in an atmosphere of relative relaxation between Seoul and Pyongyang as a result of the North's participation in the ongoing PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, after agreements were reached between the two neighbouring countries in January.

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