On April 2, 1989 Kim Jong Il was inquiring about the preparations for the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students. He told officials concerned that they should receive foreign delegates with cordial hospitality and pay close concern to the accommodation of the guests.
To their surprise, he went on:
“Among the delegates there may be some who will greet their birthdays during the festival, and the Central Preparatory Committee of the Festival should make necessary arrangements for this.”
Then he spoke in detail about what needed to be done to ensure that the foreign guests could celebrate their birthdays in a meaningful way during the festival.
He continued: The birthday spreads for them must not look similar to one another. Attention should be directed to such minute details as their national customs and dietary habits, particularly their characteristic features and favourite foods. Gifts should be prepared and photograph taking planned for, so that they can recall their happy days in the country.
This was how the preparatory committee was tasked with another important job.
According to a calculation made by the reception officials, the foreigners who would greet their birthdays during the festival numbered more than 300, among the tens of thousands of people from over 100 countries.
Every one of them was given on his or her birthday a feast that was suited to the national customs and dietary habits.
At first the foreigners looked in wonder at the tables and, after being told about them, expressed their heartfelt gratitude for Kim Jong Il’s benevolent care.