How to Throw a Birthday Party for a DictatorS

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il turns 69 today—that is, it is the 69th anniversary of his glorious birth on sacred Baekdu Mountain. What kind of events will take place? "Colorful events will take place," Korean News Service helpfully informs the curious. And that's not all!

This festival of flowers in praise of the great man will bring together armed forces organs, ministries, national institutions, industrial establishments, working people of different strata, school youth and children, organizations of overseas Koreans and foreigners.

There will be the 20th International Figure Skating Festival for Paektusan Prize and the demonstration performance of Synchronized Swimming with excellent sportspersons at home and abroad involved, which will add to the festive mood.

No one throws a party like Dear Leader! And yet, even with the highly-anticipated demonstration performance of Synchronized Swimming with excellent sportspersons at home and abroad, all is not right in North Korea. Where once the mighty nation bought name-brand products as party favors, it now buys knock-offs:

[An] ex-soldier, who defected to South Korea in 2003... said houses, Mercedes-Benzes, Audis, Toyotas, Rolexes and other luxury goods were doled out to important officials.

This year, the gifts that get handed out may include rip-offs of luxury goods.

Over the past three months, North Korean officials have bought clothing and textiles, including fake Gucci and Armani suits, in bulk from Beijing's Silk Street market, a person with direct knowledge of the transactions said... In the past, the source said, the North only bought original luxury brands.

But fret not, fans of North Korea! As everyone knows, North Korea will be a mighty nation by 2012, as has long been promised, and that's when the real party will start:

Also 2012 will be the centenary of the birth of North Korea's revolutionary founder - Kim Jong-il's father.

The country has long promised its impoverished people that 2012 will be the year it emerges as a strong and prosperous nation, our correspondent says.

Next year is your year, North Korea! Own it!

[Danger Room; AP; BBC]