N. Korea set to mark late founder’s birthday

North Korea appears set to hold celebrations for the 111th birth anniversary of its late founder Kim Il-sung on Saturday with dance performances in its capital and fireworks.

The North's state-run Korean Central Television reported that a slew of events will be held at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang to mark the Day of the Sun holiday later in the day. But it did not mention large-scale performances and events.

As the North usually marks every fifth and 10th political anniversaries with major celebrations, Kim Jong-un, the North's leader and grandson of the late founder, is unlikely to attend the event.

He previously appeared at military parades that marked the 100th and 105th birth anniversaries of his late grandfather in 2012 and 2017, respectively. Kim also attended a mass rally last year to mark his grandfather's birthday.

Pyongyang has revved up a festive mood for the late founder's birthday with a variety of arts events and commemorative stamps of its late leader.

The anniversary came as North Korea has been ratcheting up its provocations ahead of the late founder's birthday.

On Friday, North Korea said it has launched a new solid-fuel Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time.

The North launched the new ICBM on Thursday, guided by its leader, to confirm the performance of "high-thrust solid-fuel engines for multi-stage missiles," according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The latest launch also came amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula as the North has not responded to routine cross-border calls through inter-Korean liaison and military communication lines since last Friday.

Pyongyang has recently conducted other major weapons tests, such as the launch of the Hwasong-17 ICBM on March 16 and what it claimed to be underwater nuclear attack drones, in protest against combined springtime military drills between South Korea and the United States.

The regime has decried the exercises as preparations for an invasion against it.

Source: Yonhap News Agency