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N. Korea Celebrates Kim Jong Il's Birth Anniversary

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, issues instructions while visiting the construction site of the Mirae Scientists Street in Pyongyang in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, Feb. 15, 2015.

A firework show that lit up the Pyongyang skyline celebrated the 73rd anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il Sunday night.

Kim Jong Il was born February 16, 1941, and died December 17, 2011.

The former leader ruled for 17 years, overseeing a period that included a famine in the 1990s that killed hundreds of thousands of people and raised international tensions over the country's attempts to build nuclear weapons.

The country's biggest holiday of the year, marked by military parades and mass performances, is the April 15 birthday of founding president Kim Il Sung -- Kim Jong Il's father and present leader Kim John Un's grandfather.

The United States expanded sanctions against North Korea late last month after blaming Pyongyang for a hacking attack on Sony Corp.

Material for this report came from Reuters and AP.