North Korean leader Kim Jong Il marked the anniversary of his late father's birth 98 years ago by promoting 100 loyal generals while Pyongyang residents watched a "kaleidoscope" of fireworks, state media said.April 15th is one of the most important holidays in North Korea, a day when even the average North Korean citizen gets a rare chance at gluttony, according to defectors now living in Seoul.
One recent defector recalled tables piled high with rice cakes; boiled pork and rice served in a hearty broth; seasoned spring greens, and her favorite: steamed pollack skin stuffed with ground fish meat and tofu.
Such lavish meals are a rarity in North Korea, where flooding and mismanagement in the 1990s destroyed the economy and led to widespread famine. Millions now rely on handouts from foreign nations and international donor agencies.
Meanwhile, North Korea pushes ahead in its mission to build a "great, prosperous and powerful nation" by 2012, the centenary of founder Kim Il Sung's birth.All week, thousands have been lining up to lay flowers at the foot of the towering statue of Kim Il Sung, the guerrilla fighter-turned-political leader who founded the communist state in 1948.