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North Koreans celebrate their rulers with song and dance as world watches for missile launch

David Guttenfelder / AP

North Koreans dance beneath a painting of late leader Kim Il Sung during a mass folk dancing gathering in Pyongyang on April 11. The gathering marked the anniversary of the first of many titles of power given to leader Kim Jong Un after the death of his father Kim Jong Il.

As the United States and South Korea watched nervously for a North Korean missile launch, North Koreans kicked off a spring festival as part of celebrations surrounding the April 15 birthday of founding father Kim Il Sung. Thursday was also the first anniversary of Kim Jong Un's official ascent to power, although he became de-facto leader immediately after his father's death. Read Story

 Video: Kim dynasty celebrated in North Korea

Jon Chol Jin / AP

Performers carry a flag at the opening of the April Spring People's Art Festival at the East Pyongyang Grand Theater on April 11. The festival opened Thursday to mark late president Kim Il Sung's birthday on April 15, known in North Korea as the Day of the Sun. In the background are portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung, left, and his son, Kim Jong Il.

Jon Chol Jin / AP

Performers sing about North Korea's late leader Kim Jong Il.

Jon Chol Jin / AP

North Korean performers at the opening of the April Spring People's Art Festival.

David Guttenfelder / AP

As chief Asia photographer for the Associated Press, David Guttenfelder has had unprecedented access to communist North Korea. Here's a rare look at daily life in the secretive country.