Is it true that in North Korea, the current year is recognized as 104, and not 2015?
North Korea uses the Juche Calendar, which was adopted in 1997. It is based on the birth of Kim Il-sung which occurred on April 15, 1912. Sung was the father of Kim Jong-il, who died in 2011, and the grandfather of current “Supreme Leader” Kim Jong-un. 1912 was designated Juche 1 (meaning there is no Juche 0). Months and days are the same as the Gregorian calendar, meaning 15 July Juche 102 is the same as 15 July 2013.
The Associated Press reported the new calendar back in 1997:
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – To most of the world, this is 1997.
In North Korea, it is year 86, according to a new calendar adopted Wednesday that counts time from the birth of the country’s late leader, Kim Il Sung.
Wednesday marked the end of the official three-year mourning period for him.
In addition, Kim’s birthday, April 15, has been renamed “the day of the sun,” the official Korean Central News Agency said. The birthday is already the North’s biggest national holiday.
North Koreans call Kim the “Great Leader.”
A common practice is to list the Gregorian year in parenthesis after the Juche date, such as Juche 92 (2003).
Prior to the adoption of the Juche calendar, North Korea used the Gregorian calendar. For dates prior to 1912, the Gregorian calendar is still used. Even though the country used the Gregorian calendar until 1997, all of the years beginning with 1912 were renumbered.
Kim Il-sung was the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from 1948 until his death in 1994. In addition to being the basis for the country’s calendar, his birthday of April 15th is a national holiday, and the North Korean constitution labels him the “Eternal President.”
- North Korea sets new calendar (AP, Lodi News-Sentinel: July 10, 1997. p20.)
- Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (korea-dpr.com)
Updated January 7, 2015
Originally published June 2013