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Day of Songun – August 25, 2022

The Day of Songun, observed annually on August 25, is a holiday celebrated in North Korea. This holiday commemorates the start of the military-first rule in the nation, under the leadership of Kim Jong-il. The Kim family is the ruling family of North Korea, and they have held the seat of power ever since establishing the country in 1948. The Songun concept places the top-most priority on members of the military, further enforcing the Korean People’s Army (K.P.A.) position in the allocation of resources and state affairs. However, has the term lost its meaning over time, or concealed yet another way of upholding the Kim family? Read on to find out.

History of Day of Songun

The Day of Songun is an important federal holiday in North Korea. Although many argue that this day has lost its true meaning over time, or was only instated as another appraisal regime of the Kim family — its story is still one that deserves to be told.

Songun translates to ‘military-first,’ which has been North Korea’s governing credo for almost 60 years. Its origins, on the other hand, may be traced back to the anti-Japanese war in the 1930s, when North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-sung, was in power.

After a visit to the Seoul Ryu Kyong Su Guards, 105th Tank Division with his father, his son and successor Kim Jong-il founded the Songun concept. Because it was one of the important advances from Seoul to Taejon (Daejeon) during the Korean War, this division has historical significance for the country.

Upon his visit to the tank division, Kim Jong-il devised the military-first system to classify every citizen into three broad groups, with priority being given to the military and the Korean People’s Army (K.P.A.). He believed that all problems within their society could be corrected by giving precedence to military affairs.

However, over time and under the rule of Kim Jong-un, the concept seems to have dwindled in meaning in a bid to balance the efforts of the ruling party, the Workers’ Party of Korea (W.P.K.), and the Korean People’s Army (K.P.A.) which was the ruling party all through previous eras. The term is now also loosely used to signify anything ‘good.’ Furthermore, as the living conditions of military members decline, the Day of Songun has simply become yet another day to mark the person and life of Kim Jong-il.

Day of Songun timeline

1960
A Trip Down Memory Lane

Kim Jong-il visits the Seoul Ryu Kyong Su Guards 105th Tank Division with his father Kim Il-sung on August 25.

1995
Military First

After Kim Il-death Sung and a visit to a guard station, Songun's leadership is declared an official policy.

2012
An Immortal Symbol

During the August 25 celebrations, a flag is unfurled bearing the images of the supreme command of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong-il.

2013
Save the Date

Kim Jong-un officially announces August 25 as the Day of Songun, which was adopted by the Supreme People's Assembly the following day.

Day of Songun FAQs

What other holidays in North Korea are for Kim Jong-il?

There are two other holidays in commemoration of North Korea’s former Supreme Leader, in addition to the Day of Songun — which has now become another holiday to commemorate Kim Jong-il. The annual Day of the Shining Star, held on February 16, commemorates his birth, while Generalissimo Day, held on February 14, commemorates his promotion to the rank of Taewonsu.

Are Songun and Songbun the same?

Even though the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they refer to two distinct concepts. Songun is a leadership theory that prioritizes military members and military affairs above all else, whereas Songbun is a categorization system in which you are assigned resources, opportunities, and tasks based on your assigned rank. When members of the public apply to join the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, the latter is also utilized to determine eligibility.

How did Kim Jong-il classify citizens after establishing Songun?

The Songun concept was designed by Kim Jong-il to prioritize military matters and the Korean People’s Army (K.P.A.). However, this resulted in the formation of Songbun, which divides all North Koreans into three groups. The core, which includes professional revolutionaries, descendants of war heroes who perished working or fighting for the country, and peasant families, is the first of these categories. The second group, which includes people who had previously lived in South Korea or China, families of small-scale businessmen, academics, superstitious practitioners, and so on, is in flux. The hostile group, which includes descendants of landlords, capitalists, religious people, political prisoners, and those who aided South Korean forces during the Korean War, is the final category.

How to Observe Day of Songun

  1. Learn more about the Songun rule

    Members of the military not just in North Korea, but all over the world risk their lives for us daily. Any reason to honor their service and sacrifice is one we don’t take lightly. This holiday, although now wavering in its significance, has always been about prioritizing the lives and conditions of members of the military.

  2. Fly the flag

    On this day, citizens of the country like to mark the holiday by flying the North Korean flag. You can join in on the celebration by purchasing your mini flag and hitting the streets of North Korea. If you arent within the country at this time, simply unfurl the flag for the day and place it somewhere in your home.

  3. Become a tourist

    Take advantage of the opportunity to become a tourist for the day if you happen to be in North Korea on this day. Galas for service people, mass dancing in the streets, outdoor concerts, and the placing of flowers at historic locations are some of the other ways this day is commemorated. Choose a few places to visit today, and don't forget to pick up your flowers!

5 Facts About Kim-Jong-il

  1. He wasn’t a fan of planes

    Kim Jong-il had a fear of flying and always opted to take a train on external visits when he could.

  2. He had a wet hobby

    Kim Jong-il was a fan of water slides, making great efforts to construct looping water slides in his mansions whenever he could.

  3. He was an over achiever

    From walking and talking at three weeks, to penning over a thousand books and six operas, to becoming a record-breaking golfer — the ex-ruler seemed to excel at everything.

  4. Perculiar agriculture interests

    In a bid to solve the famine problem in North Korea, Kim Jong-il made a plan to breed giant rabbits the size of dogs!

  5. He built a propaganda city

    Kim Jong-il built a city called Kijong-Dong in the 1950s solely for propaganda purposes and it remains uninhabited to this day.

Why Day of Songun is Important

  1. It focuses on the military

    Military personnel from all over the world, not only in North Korea, put their lives on the line for us daily. We don't take lightly any cause to honor their service and sacrifice. Although its significance has waned in recent years, this holiday has always been about valuing the lives and conditions of military personnel.

  2. It has another meaning

    As previously stated, the term 'Songun' has come to mean everything 'good,' ranging from belief systems to lifestyle choices. This interpretation of the term is acceptable since it implies that the Day of Songun can also be viewed as a new opportunity to uphold all things well.

  3. It’s an educative holiday

    North Korea is one of the most private countries on the planet, despite receiving a lot of media attention. As a result, every opportunity to learn more about the country's governance, leadership, and general knowledge will be considered educational.

Day of Songun dates

YearDateDay
2022August 25Thursday
2023August 25Friday
2024August 25Sunday
2025August 25Monday
2026August 25Tuesday

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