N. Korea on Kim's Birthday: Let People Eat, Um, Nothing

Dear Leader parties; no 'gifts' for Koreans
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2011 2:07 PM CST
Kim Jong Il's Birthday: North Korean Leader Parties as Broke Country Can't Afford Food for People
An image of North Korea's heir apparent Kim Jong Un, center, is shown on the screen during a performance to celebrate the 69th birthday of their leader, Kim Jong Il, in Pyongyang, Feb. 16, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

North Korea held its usual lavish celebration to mark Kim Jong Il’s 69th birthday today—even though the desperately poor country couldn’t afford to hand out its usual “birthday gift” of food rations to the people. In one northeastern province, even ruling party officials haven’t gotten their gifts, which consist of up to 10 days of rice and corn, the Telegraph reports. More senior officials have been given—gasp!—knockoff Rolex watches and Armani suits instead of the real deal. The state-run media also reported its customary "miracle"—this time a "solar halo" rising over the Dear Leader's mythical mountain birthplace.

The UN predicts North Korea will suffer shortfalls of more than 500,000 tons of grain this year, leaving 5 million without food. But that didn’t stop the Kims from partying. Huge numbers of goose-stepping soldiers and dancing uniformed women paraded through Pyongyang, culminating in a massive flower show. Word also broke that Kim Jong Un had been officially elevated to vice chairman of the defense commission, a post second only to his dad, the New York Times reports. (More Kim Jong-Un stories.)

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