Day of the Shining Star
The Day of the Shining Star (Korean: 광명성절; MR: Kwangmyŏngsŏng-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.
|Day of the Shining Star|
|Observed by||North Korea|
|Significance||Birth of Kim Jong-il (1941/1942)|
|First time||After being designated in 1982|
|Related to||Generalissimo Day (14 February), Loyalty Festival (between 16 February and 15 April), Day of the Sun (15 April), Day of Songun (25 August)|
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.
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 guerrilla 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 guerrilla camp. In reality, the guerrillas 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.
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", although the "shining star" (광명성) is also used. According to legend, a bright star appeared on the sky the night he was born, and guerrilla 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!"
Kim's birthday had been provisionally celebrated from 1976 on, but it became a national holiday only in 1982, two days after he became a member of the Politburo of the Workers' Party of Korea. When he ascended to the leadership of the country, his birthday was marked as "The Spring of Humanity" on the North Korean calendar. During his lifetime, though, Kim shunned away from public occasions during his birthdays. 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". An equestrian statue with Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung was revealed to commemorate the day.
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, and mass dancing parties. 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. 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. Children are given candy, and it is one of the few occasions on which new members are admitted in the Korean Children's Union. Vitaly Mansky's 2015 documentary film Under the Sun chronicles the run up to such a ceremony on the Day of the Shining Star.
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. 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).
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