Kim Il Sung's Birthday
(Day of the Sun) |
North Korean Holidays

15 April marks the anniversary of the birth of leader Kim Il Sung.

Kim Il Sung's Birthday / The Day of the Sun, one of the largest holidays in North Korea

Kim Il Sung's Birthday, previously known as the 'Day of the Sun’ (태양절 | 太陽節), is celebrated each year on 15 April. It is the anniversary of the birth of President Kim Il Sung and one of the largest North Korean holidays each year. This year (2020) is Juche 109 in North Korea and the nation celebrates the 108th birthday of the President. The holiday is typically marked with public Mass Dances, fireworks, the Kim Ilsungia Flower Festival, and the Spring Arts Festival.

The annual Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon (also known as ‘the Pyongyang Marathon’) is also held on a Sunday around the holiday.

Important Note: As of April 2024, the 'Day of the Sun' phrase is no longer actively used in North Korea. Instead, it is now referred to only as Kim Il Sung's Birthday.


Kim Il Sung (김일성 | 金日成) was born on 15 April 1912 in the village of Mangyongdae on the outskirts of Pyongyang as Kim Song Ju. During the 1930’s, he adopted the name ‘Il Sung’ which literally means to ‘become the sun’, beginning an association between the leader and the sun.

Koreans and tourists enjoying a karaoke session in the park on their day off - will you be the next to join in?

Visit North Korea for Kim Il Sung's Birthday (Day of the Sun)

Kim Il Sung's Birthday (previously Day of the Sun) is a popular time to visit North Korea due to the festivities associated with the holiday and generally decent spring weather.

What can I expect to see during Kim Il Sung's Birthday celebrations?

The celebrations on Kim Il Sung's Birthday are varied each year, but can include the following;

- Kim Ilsungia Flower Exhibition
- Mass dances
- Special circus performance
- Fireworks in Kim Il Sung Square

- Koreans celebrate during this time period by visiting locations connected historically with the leader, such as the Mansudae Grand Monuments, Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, and Mangyongdae Birthplace. Since this is a holiday celebrated over a long period, you can expect to see many Koreans out visiting various locations at this time. On the Kim Il Sung's birthday, Koreans spend their day off relaxing in the park, joining in mass dance celebrations or visiting the Kim Ilsungia flower exhibition - and you can join them too!

- Aside from enjoying a picnic in the park with the Koreans or even having a karaoke sing-along with them (!), you can expect to see Koreans joining in the various celebrations throughout Pyongyang.

Koryo Tours arranges group tours for Kim Il Sung's Birthday (Day of the Sun) annually and can also arrange private independent tours for the holiday. Book early; transport tickets sell out!

The Pyongyang Marathon is also part of the celebrations. There has never been a better time to visit North Korea, combining two main events - and hopefully some sunshine over Spring!

Further Reading:

Day of the Shining Star, 16th February
North Korean holiday celebrating the birthday of General Kim Jong Il


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