NK founder-birthday preparation

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is preparing to celebrate the birthday of the country's founder Kim Il-sung, state run media said Friday, despite heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The birthday of Kim, who died in 1994, falls on April 15 and is called the "Day of the Sun" in the isolated country. It is considered the country's most important holiday.

This year's birthday celebration takes place as the North's relations with the outside world have been strained by the detonation of a nuclear device last month and its unilateral announcement to nullify the Korean War (1950-53) Armistice Agreement and all non-aggression pacts with its southern neighbor. The North has ratcheted up its bellicose rhetoric toward the U.S. and South Korea in recent weeks.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) claimed an international preparation committee was set up earlier in the week in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It said the committee is tasked with arranging photo exhibitions, screenings of movies and hosting various cultural events.

It added that efforts will be made to win support from foreign groups for Pyongyang's anti-U.S. activities.

The official news wire service added birthday preparation committees have been created in countries such as Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Romania and Kuwait.

North Korean analysts in Seoul said that with Kim's birthday only 20 days away, Pyongyang is drumming up support for the leader's legacy that could help incumbent leader Kim Jong-un secure his grip on power. They speculated that the North may hold a lavish event because this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Korea War cease fire. The North has claimed the three year conflict ended in a victory for the communist country.

Kim Jong-un is the founder's grandson and inherited power when his father Kim Jong-il died suddenly in late 2011. The North has emphasized the importance of the "Mt. Paektu bloodline". Paektu is the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula and in the North it is used describe the ruling Kim family.

Meanwhile, the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, said in an article that the people and military should unite and "destroy all moves by the United States and its followers to invade the North."

It said that the country should stand behind Kim Jong-un and pointed out that the country has powerful nuclear deterrent capabilities.

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