Kim Jong-Il Celebration: Party Like It’s Juche 99

It was the biggest party of the year – and will probably retain that distinction until the end. Everybody was there, including foreign officials far too cool to be named. Dancers, singers and synchronized swimmers performed … all in honor of the Dear Leader’s sixty-eighth birthday. According to Pyongyang’s state-run media, Kim was “praised by mankind as the most outstanding political elder and the peerlessly brilliant commander of the present era.”

Across the border, however, the partying was supplanted with speculation, particularly given rumors of Kim’s 2008 stroke. According to the LA Times, his psychological state is said to be in question. A South Korean journal article puts the end of his life no more than five years into the future. In fact, the report says, “Kim Jong Il is known to have shed some tears when bodyguards were with him, unlike in the past.”

This didn’t stop the dear leader from getting down, though, at a party held on a day to considered to be one of North Korea’s top holidays. The synchronized swimmers “depicted beautiful frost flowers carrying boundless reverence” for Kim, inspired by such music as “Let’s Meet Each Other on the Front” and “Let the Soldiers Be Heroes.”

This year, there were some changes: gifts for the kids were in short supply. You could blame the country’s dismal financial situation, or take it right from the horse’s mouth: “abnormal climatic conditions” and “blocked sea routes” prevented the tradition from being continued. A handful made out, though “Presents were transported by helicopter for a small number of children,” the release reported, “a measure taken by Kim Jong Il.”