Seoul (South Korea), March 24: North Korea plans to hold various large-scale celebratory events, both online and offline, on the occasion of the 110th birth anniversary of its late founding leader next month, according to its state media Thursday.
The North will hold a major spring festival in Pyongyang with magic shows and performances by art troupes around mid-April to commemorate Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un, on April 15, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
"(The festival) will inspire us on our powerful march and help make this meaningful year a revolutionary year of celebrations," the North's main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, also said.
Pyongyang will stage another major international art festival online this year amid COVID-19 concerns. The April Spring Friendship Art Festival, which started in 1982, is a biennial event that invites art troupes from other countries to celebrate the late founder's birthday.
The birth anniversary, referred to in the North as the Day of the Sun, is one of the country's biggest national holidays. The North tends to mark every fifth and 10th anniversary with large-scale events, including military parades.
Citing commercial satellite imagery from Planet Labs, Radio Free Asia (RFA) said the North seems to be continuing preparations for a massive military parade.
The images show around 600 to 650 trucks have been mobilized at the Mirim airport in Pyongyang on Monday, more than four times the number of trucks seen last month, the Washington-based news outlet reported Wednesday (local time).
The North is estimated to have mobilized more than 7,500 troops, gearing up for the parade, it added.
The South Korean government is closely monitoring the North's moves in view of what Pyongyang usually did for previous key anniversaries, an official said.
"We are keeping a close eye (on it), with the possibility of a military parade high, considering the overall situation, including the North's past activities (on similar occasions) and what Pyongyang has announced, as well as signs detected by our military," the unification ministry official told reporters on the customary condition of anonymity.
The North also appears to be planning major cultural events this year in an apparent effort to strengthen internal unity amid growing economic pressure from the fallout of global sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, the North canceled almost all major celebrations for the birth anniversary amid the pandemic.