The head of South Korea's presidential committee for economic cooperation with northern countries returned home Sunday from his three-day visit to China, where he promoted Seoul's vision of expanding ties with neighbors in the region. National flags and placards have been placed along major streets of Pyongyang in celebration of the birthday of the founder, who died in 1994. North Korean media has since been lauding ties with China, a move that local analysts believe is Pyongyang's effort to build negotiating power with the United States when Kim meets President Donald Trump in May or June for the first summit between a North Korean and American leader.
As on past anniversaries, citizens and military personnel laid flowers and bowed before giant statues of the founder and his son Kim Jong Il, the previous leader who died in 2011, on Mansu Hill in the heart of Pyongyang from early morning. "I am determined to offer everything to pave the way for building a powerful Korea", Yang Yong Ae, the 50-year-old employee of the sports ministry, told Kyodo News.
On the occasion of the holiday, Kimilsungia festival of flowers was opened, with a specially bred species of orchids, named after Kim Il Sung, being a highlight. The flower was created in Indonesia. On April 8, around 600 foreigners participated in a Pyongyang marathon organized for the commemoration.
The North's state-run media gave extensive coverage on Sunday to leader Kim Jong Un's meeting with a senior Chinese official, as the country celebrated the anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung.
"According to the Korea Central News Agency, "(Kim) said with deep emotion that the Chinese comrades accorded cordial hospitality to him with utmost sincerity in token of warm comradely friendship during his recent unforgettable visit to China. Kim is reported to have welcomed the delegation, saying he will mobilize relevant departments to provide the greatest hospitality.
Song is heading a delegation that arrived in Pyongyang on Friday which includes an art troupe taking part in the April Spring Friendship Art Festival. The committee head thus requested China to play a "constructive role" in denuclearizing North Korea.
Pyongyang celebrates the successful completion of the hydrostatic test for a intercontinental ballistic rocket installation in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang, North Korea.
Kim made his first visit to China in March, in a secret trip that reopened ties between the two governments after years of strained relations due to Beijing's opposition to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme and support of worldwide sanctions against North Korea.
Inter-Korean relations, meanwhile, have been improving since the North made a decision to take part in the February 9-25 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics hosted by the South.
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