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North Korea Prepares For Kim Jong Il's Birthday (PHOTOS)

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North Korean women perform in a mass synchronized swimming show in Pyongyang, North Korea Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 to celebrate the birthday of the late leader Kim Jong Il who would have turned 70 on Feb. 16, 2012. The women performed, as a grand finale, the song "We Will Defend General Kim Jong Un at the Risk of Our Lives". (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder) | AP

(AP) PYONGYANG, North Korea — Senior North Korean officials are pledging loyalty to new leader Kim Jong Un ahead of what would have been his late father Kim Jong Il's 70th birthday.

SCROLL DOWN for incredible photos of the birthday celebrations.

Kim Jong Un and thousands of military and party officials gathered Wednesday in Pyongyang. Kim Jong Il's birthday is Thursday.

The audience clapped loudly as ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam gave a speech praising Kim Jong Un as the unquestioned successor to Kim Jong Il.

Reuters reports that Kim Jong Il's birthday has been declared a national holiday called the Day of the Shining Star. Additionally, according to the Associated Press, the country has produced Kim Jong Il postage stamps, commemorative coins and golden medals. According to Reuters, the late leader's name was carved on a mountainside with the title 'unequaled patriot.'

The AP adds:

State media have reported a series of supernatural events: Mountains glow crimson, double rainbows, a family of bears weeps by the side of a road, hundreds of shrieking magpies hover over mourning sites.

The fact that the former North Korean leader passed away last December hasn't stopped the party. Below, check out photos of the festivities:


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