75th Anniversary of Party Foundation and Liberation Day (2020)
When talking about celebrations in North Korea, there are several throughout the year. The biggest ones, however, happen during 5th or 10th year anniversaries.
In 2020, we are expecting an extra big celebration as we see the 75th anniversary of both Liberation Day and Party Foundation day in North Korea.
In 1945, the Second World War came to an end with the surrender of the Japanese Empire. With this surrender, the Japanese occupation of Korea also came to an end.
In North Korea, the surrender of Japan is celebrated as ‘Liberation Day’ on the 15th of August.
The end of Japanese occupation marked the end of a horrific chapter in Korea’s history. Between 1910 and 1945, the peninsula was under the control of Tokyo’s imperial government any many Koreans were abused and killed by the occupying forces. One of the most well-known atrocities was the ‘Comfort Women’ scandal – thousands of Korean women were transported to Japan to serve as prostitutes for Japanese soldiers.
Liberation Day is one of the most important public holidays in North Korea.
The atrocities committed by the Japanese mean that Liberation Day is incredibly important to Korea. It is also the only national holiday which is also celebrated in South Korea.
In October 1945, the North Korea Bureau of the Communist Party of Korea (NKBCPK) was founded as an offshoot of the Communist Party of Korea. This organisation served as the foundation for the creation of the Worker’s Party of Korea which is still the dominant political force in North Korea to this day.
In 1946, the NKBCPK joined other political parties such as the New People’s Party, Chondoist Party and Democratic Party to form the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland. To this day, all political parties in North Korea are members of this organisation; the aim of this being to ensure that the end-goal of any political group in North Korea is to seek reunification of Korea.
In July 1946, the New People’s Party (NPP) and the NKBCPK merged to form the Worker’s Party of North Korea. The first conference of this new party was held in August of that same year. At the same time, the NPP merged with the South Korean branch of the Communist Party to form the Worker’s Party of South Korea.
In 1949, a year after the formation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), a decision was made to formally merge the Northern and Southern wings of the Worker’s Party. On the 30th of June 1949, the Worker’s Party of Korea was officially created.
As with many public holidays in North Korea, Mass Dances are expected across the country. Thousands of Koreans, many in national dress, convene in public places such as squares and parks to perform huge choreographed dances to celebrate the holiday.
On important jubilee years, especially quarter-century anniversaries such as the 75th anniversaries this year, military parades can often be expected.
These parades are not as common as many people think – the last parade took place in February 2018 to mark the anniversary of the foundation of the Korean People’s Army in 1932. This makes the chance to be in Pyongyang during a parade a very rare opportunity.
Whilst tourists are not permitted to be on Kim Il Sung Square or on the audience dais during the parade, Pyongyang is quite a small city so you’re unlikely to miss the military vehicles and thousands of soldiers as they prepare to march through the heart of the city past the Marshal to celebrate the national holiday.
This year, we are also expecting the Mass Games to return to celebrate these anniversaries. At time of writing we don’t have any confirmed dates, although late summer and autumn are the usual performance times. Getting a chance to visit the Mass Games in the Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
A celebration like no other, the Mass Gymnastic displays performed in Pyongyang are unique throughout the world – thousands of performers in perfect unison, dancers and acrobats make up one of the most impressive celebrations in the world.
We expect this performance to overlap at least one, if not both of these significant anniversaries.