Around this time of year, North Korean people, too, enjoy Christmas Eve. Students of middle, high schools, and Universities practice performances for a singing contest by class groups. Adults, without exception, also prepare for the contest and various events organized by their working groups at their work. Really? Celebrating Christmas Eve in North Korea? To be frank, it is not the Christmas eve that we enjoy. Coincidentally, the birthday of mother Kim Jung-sok is on December 24th. She is the wife of Kim Il-sung the former North Korean leader and the grandmother of Kim Jong-un who is the current leader and the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission in North Korea. Every year, winter comes back around, and in December, the first day of snow comes. In North Korea, it snows every winter, but strangely, the very first snow is somehow extra welcoming and it carries a special meaning. Kim Jong-suk (1917 – 1949) was a Korean anti-Japanese guerrilla, a Communist activist, North Korean leader Kim Il-sung's first wife, former leader Kim Jong-il's mother, and current leader Kim Jong-un's grandmother. ImageⒸ Yonhapnews Snow comes early in North Korea because it is situated the farther north compared to the South. In North Korea, it snows a lot during winter. Unlike South Korea, North Korea does not celebrate Lunar New Year's Day or Chuseok as the biggest holiday of the year. Instead, we celebrate the birthdays of our supreme leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jung Un. Though Mother Kim Jung-suk’s birthday is not being included in the biggest holidays, it is still considered meaningful in various aspects. December 24th is not a national holiday, with red-colored date on the calendar, but it feels like a holiday all day. Probably because it’s the end of the year and the first snow comes around that time. December is a wrap-up month for the year. There are different end-of-year parties in North Korea, officially or unofficially. Children are happy to become a year older and adults feel relief that they lived through another year safely, and console themselves for enduring another year. North Korean High School Students ImageⒸ Ed Jones (AFP) In the early 2000s, the year when I graduated from high school, I went to a rather big party with my classmates as after graduation, and by the next year in March, we would be separated into our own workplaces so there was a feeling of thrill and already missing friends at the same time. Nearly 20 of my friends from school gathered, led by so-called “insiders,” the popular kids in school. My high school had about 40 students in one class, and there were nine such classes, so those 20 were selected from about 300-400 students. In North Korea, the students usually graduate from high school at the age of 16 or 17, so we were still 'children', if applied by the standard of adult South Koreans.ImageⒸ Yonhapnews In North Korea, the purpose of the gathering is an important element to prevent any unforeseen troubles in the future. We set a date for the end-of-year party on December 24 and decided to meet in the evening after holding an annual event in each class called the "Loyalty Song Contest". We planned to meet at the house of a friend who was the vice-president of the Youth Alliance (similar to the South Korean Student Council) at my school. The reason was simple. The friend, as the vice-president, organized the party and the parents were wealthy so they offered to prepare most of the food, and they lived in a large house. Most importantly, their house had a 24-hour running electricity. Electricity was essential for us to turn on a cassette player, which is called a recorder, and to dance the disco like crazy. Of course, we had to prepare a diesel generator and some candles just in case the electricity goes out. The day finally came, and each of us brought a gift to the party. We gathered at the friend's house where everything was perfectly ready. Someone recited Heine's love poem, and someone sang beautifully the theme song of the movie 'Titanic' in English. We drank a lot without any worries, and after we got drunk, a feast of uncertain body movements, which I couldn't tell whether disco or sports dance, began. Since all the attendees were members of the Youth Alliance, the closing remarks were also ‘revolutionary’: "Let's all become the loyal revolutionaries of our country after the graduation!" Responding with a loud round of applause to the closing of the vice-president of the Youth Alliance, we all went home at dawn. The boys who admired the gentleman's manners accompanied the girls on their way home as if it were in their nature. As we suspected, someone tipped off to the higher ranks at the school that dozens of student members of the Alliance gathered on the Mother Kim Jong-suk's birthday to "eat, drink and dance against the socialist values." In the end, however, the closing remarks that we had "decided to be loyal to the Party" were highlighted, and thankfully, only one or two members were called in and ended nicely with a simple "disciplinary words." Like this, December 24th is a day that warms up the hearts of young people in North Korea as well. It is being told that nowadays North Koreans enjoy Christmas Eve, centered on young adults in their 20s and 30s. It is considered a special day to ‘ask someone out’ or a day to ‘give a gift’ to a lover. Of course, it may be a good thing that December 24 is officially Mother Kim Jong-suk's birthday.